The Kerala Assembly on Thursday adopted a substantive motion proposing that the Madhav Gadgil Committee report recommending measures for conservation of the Western Ghats should be implemented only after wider consultations, and with public participation.

The impractical proposals in the expert panel report should not be approved. A practical approach incorporating the developmental needs of the people and localities should be adopted while taking measures for protection of the Western Ghats.

Alarmed by this year’s scanty rainfall and the drying up of water reserves in several parts of the State, the office of the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority has forwarded a recommendation to the State government to this effect.

The scarce northeast monsoon has failed to make up for the shortfall in the southwest spell during the past two years. The southwest monsoon’s share of rainfall this year was the lowest in the last seven years.

Saint Joseph’s Higher Secondary School, Peruvamthanam, in Idukki has been selected as the best school in the State for implementing the energy conservation awareness improvement programme ‘Nalekkit

The Supreme Court on Monday directed that the Mullaperiyar dam case be listed for final arguments on February 19, 2013.

A five-judge Constitution Bench, comprising Justices D.K. Jain, R.M. Lodha, H.L. Dattu, C.K. Prasad and Anil R. Dave, fixed the date of final hearing after brief submissions from senior counsel Harish Salve for Kerala and senior counsel Vinod Bobde for Tamil Nadu. The Bench is hearing a suit filed by Tamil Nadu questioning the law enacted by Kerala in 2006 to restrict the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam at 136 ft. though the Supreme Court had permitted Tamil Nadu to raise the water level up to 142 ft. Since Justice Jain is due to retire in January next, a new Bench will hear the matter.

Part of initiative to tackle power crisis in the State

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is charting out an action plan for extensively exploiting the solar energy potential to tackle the power crisis gripping the State. Official sources told The Hindu here that a high-level expert panel appointed by the board is holding weekly meetings to scrutinise the successful models set up in different parts of the country for preparing a detailed project report by mid-November. As a proven technology, it has been envisaged to adopt the solar technology at present and then move on to other sources like wind and tidal power in due course.

Lays emphasis on long-term monitoring

Groundwater resources in Kerala have come under increasing stress from rising levels of exploitation and pollution, the first aquifer atlas of Kerala has revealed. The atlas, compiled by the Central Ground Water Board, estimates the net annual groundwater availability in the State at 6.01 billion cubic metres as on March 2011. The stage of “groundwater development” for the State as a whole has been computed at 47 per cent. The utilisation pattern is, however, uneven across the State, with groundwater-stressed conditions in some parts and sub-optimal groundwater development in some others.

Kerala will convey its displeasure over the appointment of consultant to the monitoring committee for maintenance and repair at Mullaperiyar dam.

The Irrigation department has already conveyed the displeasure to the State Water Resources Department to be taken up with the Central Water Commission. As per the Supreme Court direction, the monitoring committee for maintenance will consist of three members, one each from Kerala and Tamil Nadu and one independent member from the Centre.

The Rs.20,000-crore Muthoot Pappachan Group, which has a minor wing doing business in alternate energy, is keen on investing in a big way in the wind energy sector in Kerala, especially over the Ramakkalmedu ridges on the Western Ghats in Idukki district, the group’s chairman and managing director Thomas John Muthoot has said.

Talking to presspersons here on Thursday, he said the group had invested more than Rs.150 crore in wind energy so far, generating 25 MW in Tamil Nadu. According to his group’s assessment, Kerala had a wind energy potential of nearly 2,000 MW. The places most ideal for wind energy stations are Ramakkalmedu in Idukki district and Kanjikode and Attappadi in Palakkad district.

‘Project tunnels not to reach State’s territory’

No direct study has been done on the possible ecological impact in Idukki from the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project as “no surface activity/construction is envisaged in the area [district],” says the rapid Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the project. P.A. Aziz, Director of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), who led the assessment, says Kerala has been excluded from the study as the project map provided shows its tunnels not reaching the State’s territory.

Eight small hydro power schemes mooted

In a bid to enhance power generation, the Small Hydro Promotion Cell of the Energy Management Centre, attached to the Department of Power, has proposed eight small hydro-power schemes in Kozhikode district. Some of these projects, already showcased at Emerging Kerala, which concluded in Kochi on Friday, have been envisaged to attract investors through the ‘Independent Power Producer’ and the ‘Captive Power Producer’ initiatives.