Five well-known Mysoreans have submitted a memorandum to the Government of Karnataka on the Chamalapura thermal plant proposed to be set up in Mysore.
“Irrespective of the merits of the case, we, the signatories, have called upon the government to have an open mind and be ready to listen to the people, at least once , to the experts who have worked lifetime on conservation of wildlife, historical places, heritage structures, cancer specialists, etc.
“This is what democracy is all about.Not to shy away, not to ram down… but to have the courage to listen.”
The signatories to the memorandum are: T.S. Satyan,
Krishna Vattam, H.R. Bapu Satyanarayana, E.R. Ramachandran, and K. Manu
“The proposed 1000 MW Thermal Power Plant at Chamalapura is supposed to alleviate the power shortage in Karnataka State. No doubt, there is an acute power deficit in the State with respect to demand and supply.
“However, it is wise to keep the overall picture in perspective. Comparisons are made with Raichur with regard to the aftereffects stressing that the environmental effects would be minimal.
“However, the following facts may be noted.
“Without comparing Raichur Thermal Project, an objective analysis of the adverse effect on taking up Chamalapura Thermal Project has been attempted. Despite whatever decision that has been taken we would urge the government to bestow urgent and serious attention to the issue on which NGOs, citizens and the farmers affected have protested vehemently. The following facts speak for themselves.
1. Hoary history of Mysore: Mysore has a magnificent history dating to the early part of 5th century A.D. The spiritual, cultural heritage on the one hand and the architectural and diversity of nature’s bounty in terms of forestry and the wild life surrounding the city on the other, makes Mysore one of the most sought-after tourists spots and is the backbone of the thriving tourism industry. The Dasara festival is a result of centuries of culture put together now. The environmental impact will affect the tourism industry in many ways apart from other disastrous results which are enumerated below.
2. Palaces and heritage buildings: With an estimated emission of SO2 of 180 tonnes per day and NO2 of 50 tonnes per day, solid particulate matter of 5 tonnes per day, ash of 6,000 tonnes per day, CO2 of 7.5 million tonnes per year and finally of 5,000 tons of ash per day blowing across Mysore, the bounty of nature will vanish in just a few years. To give an example, the engineering marvel of palace structures has mainly lime stone and sand. The gases and dust will gradually corrode the surface, discolour the facade and weaken the structure. What elements did not do for centuries, the power plant will do it in few years. The finest of electrostaic precipitators cannot trap dust particle (less than 65 microgram) which permeate and corrode all surfaces over a period of time. Are our Tourism Ministry experts and Secretary, Heritage commissioner and INTACH convinced that nothing will happen to the august structures? Has the scion of the Wodeyars whose forefathers were the original builders of this great city been consulted?
3. Forestry and wildlife: Mysore has all along been famous for its Khedda operation and now for its wildlife safari in Bandipur and Nagarahole tiger sanctuaries. This is again the backbone of the tourism industry and the erstwhile rulers protected and nurtured this for centuries. Has the Government consulted its own experts in the forest department and wildlife experts, some of them world-renowned, for the impact of the thermal plant? Should the Government fritter away a healthy and very rich environment, unmindful of the fears of the general public, and not even consult experts who will stand faithful to their profession and give their considered opinion?
4. Human and aquatic life: Apart from the above harmful effects, the effect on human and birdlife cannot be minimized. Apart from exposure to these gases, they will get much worse in winter due to temperature inversion. There is no doubt a large populace will be exposed to respiratory problems from air pollution due to coal dust and acid rain. There will be a heavy impact on flora and fauna and the impact on soil will hit the agricultural crops. Why has the government not consulted the public health specialists and agricultural scientists on the environmental impact. Finally, mercury traces of radioactive minerals are already proven as a forerunner of carcinogens leading to cancer. Why have the leading oncologists in the State not been consulted before launching this project?
“There is no doubt power is a real problem and efforts have to be made to enhance the same. But in our anxiety, to get over the cold, we should not cut off the nose.
“We have not once touched on the human problem of displacement of people which causes untold large-scale miseries. But do we have the right to erase the history of a centuries-old city by hacking its rich spiritual, cultural, bountiful forests, wildlife, rivers, agriculture without as much as a discussion with the experts in the myriad fields who have spent lifetime studying the same?
“If all of them agree in unison with the Government, it should go ahead with the project. The least any responsible Government, any responsive Government, should do is call for such a meeting and take an unbiased overall view before taking a decision.
“History will applaud a person, a Government for having the courage to listen to all aspects of a problem from the experts, look at it from all sides, and satisfy itself fully that it is protecting its treasured heritage inherited by it, before arriving at a decision.
“We believe such a situation has come up in Mysore.We call upon our leaders to rise to the occasion.”
H.R. Bapu Satyanarayana