Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh tried to sabotage Kerala's Athirappilly hydro-electric power project by invoking the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), state Electricity Minister A.K. Balan Saturday said and sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in the matter.
Balan, who through the Right to Information Act secured the copy of a note - written by Ramesh that he could not sanction the project as the PM's Principal Secretary T.K.A. Nair was opposed to it - alleged that the minister violated the constitutional norms by dragging the Prime Minister's Office in a project earlier cleared by the environmental expert appraisal committee.
The Kerala minister read out Ramesh's note at a press conference here. Ramesh wrote, as Balan read out, said: "Many people have spoken to me regarding this project and its deleterious consequences. T.K.A. Nair is one of them. I would like environment committee clearance revoked as soon as possible since I'm very familiar with the project site."
Balan said the minister's note was corrected by his officials who went through the file.
"A minister cannot unilaterally revoke the environmental clearance which has already been given by the expert appraisal committee. He is trying to sabotage the project," Balan said.
So, they decided to issue a show-cause notice to the Kerala government, Balan said.
Earlier in the day, Jairam Ramesh said the environment ministry could cancel the environment clearance if it did not meet the laws.
"We have issued a show cause notice to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) on Athirappilly project as we have received objection from principal chief conservator of Kerala. Although the project has got environmental clearance, we can cancel it if we find that it does not meet the laws," Ramesh said.
Ramesh, who visited the Athirappilly project site last month said: "Principal Chief Conservator of Forest T.M. Manoharan, who was the chairman of the KSEB under three chief ministers, had opposed the project citing the harm it could cause to the environment and ecology of the area."