23 May Thrivikramji, the Silent Valley Project & Dept. of Environment (from archives)
Thrivikramji, the Silent Valley Project & Dept. of Environment (from archives)
The “controversial” SV project is with the DST of GOI whose findings will change the energy future not only of the state but of the nation. The new department of environment under the Prime Minister, and guided and captained by Dr.S.Z. Quasim, (formerly of NIO, GOA) I believe will be called upon to examine this issue, by either Prof. Menon, or the PM. My conviction says that the Menon Commission and the Dept., of Environment will be dispassionate because of the people involved in the committees and their past record.
One should agree that both the Menon Commission and Dr. Quasim’s Department are involved in a unique decision making process, unique because the Valley project has acquired world wide attention and propaganda. However, our scientist involved in the Menon Committee will not play with the expatriate ideas or ideas of “expatriate scientists”
The VP needs to be considered very dispassionately If the concerned governmental agencies can guarantee the protection of existing forests in Kerala, then construction of power projects can continue uninterruptedly and the nation and posterity will benefit equally.
There can be an argument that the scientists can formulate a new or alternate energy plan for the nations energy needs. But one should realize that the Bombay High Offshore took about 30 yr. after independence, to be discovered, developed or tapped. If this is the rate at which scientific discoveries and breakthrough will occur in India, our posterity will be put to hardship, unemployment, distress and breakdown of national spirit.
I would urge the Menon Committee and the DOEN to expeditiously deal with the matter of VP, – a great service to the nation and posterity.
The VP had done a great service to the nation and posterity, however much of it is bloated. But the alarmist scientists groups and special interest groups opposing the VP did a great disservice in that the hydel project proposals in Kerala are torpedoed by some vested interests in the name of environmental destruction.
Dr. Quasim , the secretary has before him a monumental task of disposing the VP. The secretary is already well aware of the environmental hazards associated with the VP, and should also be concerned about the energy needs of the nation and prosperity of the posterity.
The wind, wave, tidal and solar energy or what ever one might say as alternatives, in the scientists parlance all these are on the drawing board only, and are yet to become commercially viable. Even in the countries where these have been discovered.
I believe that it should be possible to have development in the energy sector and at the same time to have and a clean environment free of any threats. After all the VP will take only a fraction of the SV reserve forest area!.
GW as an alternate source
The GW reservoirs of Kerala are confined to the coastal plain sediment and the lateritic mid-land. The crystalline rocks of upland are poor sources of GW. The area under question, the Malabar region is well known for very deep weathering and thick aprons of laterite. Certainly the small quantities of water occurring in the lateritic terrain are insufficient as a substitute for surface irrigation. More over the trend of foliation of rocks are such that what ever water that manages to trickle down through the bedrock exposed areas would find their way to the lateritic midland. However, the upland has suitably sloping surfaces that would go against the above arguments. The sheet flow in such terrains does not get enough time to part with a portion to the crevices and cracks feeding into the GW aquifer.
The valleys of Malabar are very peculiar and special in that they are filled in with the colluvium and stream sediments. And the latter is generally of silty clay nature and well known for their poor storativity of GW. Wherever, streams like Bharathapuzha are noted, the valleys are composed of several terraces, of varying ages. The terrace sediment again is silty clay type sediment (flood plain sediment) and hence they are bad aquifer rocks to be depended on for large scale irrigation needs. I therefore content that the suitability of GW for large scale irrigation needs does not arise. They may be sufficient for smaller areas but not for 10s of1000s of hectares. I may add as below.
I had visited at least half a dozen river valleys south of Nilambur, and to my surprise I had come across every bed rock exposed slope had atypical stratified vegetation cover. They are from the top, bedrock covered summit, and steep slopes followed by grass land probably on thin soil cover, and then bush growth of trees, extending sometimes down to the low water mark in the streams. These forests are typically riverine forests, and I would imagine that by flooding this flora will migrate upslope to a limit dictated only by the soil thickness. The reservoir also would tend to change the ground water regime upslope and should then help a revitalized growth of forests and its migration.
Prof. Menon, I thank you very much for the invitation extended to me and your desire to know my views as a geoscientist.
(In this campaign I was aligned with Prof. Dr.B.K.Nair, Prof. George Vargheese, Prof. (Late) Rajappan, Dr Raghavan Nambiar, Prof. Dr. KR.Sadasivan Nair, Prof.(late) Stephen. Er. Balakrishnan Nair (KSEB) was our guide. We study-toured the valley at least thrice and individually presented our studied points of view to the Prof. Menon Commission in the Divya Prabha Hotel, Palakkad.