Palakkad (Kerala), Feb 19 (IANS) Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh Friday declared open the country’s 38th tiger reserve and Kerala’s second. It would be known as the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.
The Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1973 in a 285-sq-km protected area in Chittur taluk of Palakkad district.
To this area, another 358.662 sq km of forests was added and the tiger reserve now has an area of 643.662 sq km.
It has a rich diversity of animal life. It also has a variety of trees, including teak, neem, sandalwood and rosewood.
Kerala’s first such reserve — Periyar Tiger Reserve — is situated in Thekkadi in Idukki district.
Ramesh told reporters at the inauguration that clearance for the much-delayed Athirapally hydro- electric power project to be built by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), which has been hanging fire for more than a decade, cannot be given.
‘There are two reports which say clearance cannot be given for the project because of environmental reasons. There is no conspiracy behind this,’ added Ramesh.
The proposed project was to come up across the Chalakudy river in Thrissur district and the Kerala government, especially Power Minister A.K. Balan, has been after this project for long.
It was in 1998 that the project got the first clearance from the central government and soon thereafter, a legal battle with environmentalists ensued. In 2005, following a fresh environment impact study, it got clearance again.
But soon the Kerala High Court intervened and asked the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) for a fresh clearance, which it got in 2007, only to be asked by the central government early this month why it should not be revoked.