Athirappilly

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Athirappilly
village
Athirappilly-falls-kerala.jpg
Athirappilly is located in Kerala
Athirappilly
Athirappilly
Location in KKLR, India
Coordinates: 10°17′19″N 76°32′54″E / 10.28861°N 76.54833°E / 10.28861; 76.54833Coordinates: 10°17′19″N 76°32′54″E / 10.28861°N 76.54833°E / 10.28861; 76.54833
Country  India
State Kerala
District Thrissur
Area
 • Total 489.00 km2 (188.80 sq mi)
Elevation 80 m (260 ft)
Population
 • Total 9,216
 • Density 19/km2 (49/sq mi)
Languages
 • Official Malayalam, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 680721 ( Vettilappara P.O. )
Telephone code 0480
Vehicle registration KL-64

Athirappilly is a first grade Grama Panchayath with 489.00 km2 area in Chalakudy Taluk, Thrissur district in Kerala, India. It is located 60 km from Thrissur city, 70 km northeast of Kochi city, 55 km northeast of Cochin International Airport, and 30 km from Chalakudy town.[1]

A view of Athirappilly waterfalls
A road through the foliage of Athirapally forests
Athirapilly Falls in monsoon
Athirappilly in monsoon

Wildlife[edit]

The Athirappilly Falls is situated 1000 ft above sea level on the Chalakudy river, at the entrance to the Sholayar ranges of the Western Ghats, Athirappalli is a scenic combination of forests and little streams. Falling from a height of 80 feet, this is one of the largest waterfalls in the state. Many endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna are found in the forests of the Athirapilly-Vazhachal area. This area is the only place in the Western Ghats where four endangered hornbill species are seen. The Western Ghats is one of the most important biodiversity hot spot in the world. This valuable natural world is already degraded by mining and hydro electric projects. Environmentalists claim that Athirapally is a one-of its-kind riparian ecosystem in Kerala. V.S. Vijayan, Chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board and former Director of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Coimbatore, has been quoted in Down to Earth magazine as affirming that the Vazhachal forest division is the second most biodiverse area in the State. The International Bird Association has declared it an "Important Bird Area" and the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation has recommended that the area should be declared a sanctuary or a national park, he points out.

The Wildlife Trust of India says it represents one of India's best elephant conservation efforts. "Any disruption to this fragile ecosystem will spell disaster," says Vijayan.[2]

Tourism[edit]

Athirappilly is popular among tourists. Athirappilly Falls is one of the best places to visit in Kerala. Another popular waterfall to visit is the Vazhachal Falls. Athirappilly Falls is a part of Chalakudy river and it is approximately 80 feet in height. Athirappilly is easily reachable from Chalakudy by taking a vehicle for rent or by bus from the Chalakudy private bus terminal.

Proper precautions are taken on site to prevent mishaps while swimming and a police camp is always positioned there. Athirappilly is situated on SH-21 highway connecting Tamil Nadu and Kerala, night driving is not advised. But you can enjoy the adventurous drive in the middle of jungle.

Jungle Safari: Daily Jungle Safari trips are organized by Thrissur District Tourism Promotion Council with Athirappilly Destination Management Council from Chalakudy to Malakkappara. It is the most attractive wildlife watch and Ecotourism Junle saffari through the evergreen forest of Sholayar ranges of Western Ghats - Kerala. It is also the most beautiful Jungle Saffari watching Wildlife in the entire Kerala and is about 90 km across the rain forests of Sholayar ranges. A unique opportunity to experience the rich flora & fauna of Athirapally-Vazhachal Ecotourim, covering Kauthukapark, Thumboormuzhy Dam & Butterflygarden, Athirapally water falls, Vazhachal falls, 40 km of amidst thick forests, valleys, lofty peaks, tea garden and wildlife watch. This jungle safari is the most memorable experience, one can have in a Kerala visit.

Getting there[edit]

Route through Valparai: Coimbatore-Pollachi 40 km-Valparai 65 km From Pollachi onwards, the road climbs up steeply through tea estates to Valparai. From Valparai, the road goes through dense wild jungles after Malakkiparai. Route is as follows: Valparai-Malakkiparai 22 km-Sholayar 24-Peringalkuthu Dam 25-Vazhachal 5-Athirapalli 5-Chalakudy 33 km.

Route through Angamaly: For tourists from Cochin and other northern side of Kerala can take a short cut from Angamaly. After Passing Angamaly take right turn after the bridge. This route will pass through Mookkannoor, Edalakadu, Ezhattumugham, palm oil plantation and connect to Athirapilly Vazhachal route. This route can save time, distance and you can enjoy nature.

Route through Chalakudy: Tourists from Chalakudy and other southern side of Kerala can take the Athirappilly route starting from Anamala Jn. Chalakudy and pass through Kanjirapilly, Vettilapara Athirapilly route.

There is absolutely no human settlement between Malakkiparai and Peringalkuthu Dam. Wildlife—elephants and bison—spill over onto the road, and night driving is discouraged. Both Vazhachal and Athirapalli are on the same Chalakudy river.

Athirapalli Falls is best visited during rains. The rest of the year there is water flow but hardly the spectacle it is from June to October.

There are two water theme parks (Silver Storm and Dream Word) and many resorts on the way to Athirapilly.

Maniratnam connection[edit]

Noted Tamil film director, Maniratnam, has a huge fascination for this spot that a lot of his movies are shot here. Raavanan was almost fully shot in this location. The movies Dil Se.., Kannathil Muthamittal, Iruvar, Guru have songs shot here.

"Arjuna Arjuna" song featuring Sarathkumar and Namitha was shot in this location. The rain song ("Adada Mazhaida") Tamil movie featuring Karthi and Tamannaah, was shot at the Athirappilly waterfalls in Kerala.

Hydroelectric project[edit]

The history of Athirappilly Hydro Electric Project dates back to 1982 when the Kerala State Electricity Board proposing a twin project such as AHEP at 120MW installed capacity and Poringal Right Bank hydro electric project. . It was to include a dam 23 metres (75 ft) high and 311 metres (1,020 ft) wide on the Chalakudy River in the Vazhachal Forest Division about 5 kilometres (3 mi) upstream of Athirappilly Falls and 400 metres (1,312 ft) upstream of Vazhachal Rapids (Vazhachal Falls).[3] However, environmental groups and people's collectives opposed the project on grounds that it would damage the environment, infringe on human rights, and threaten tourism.[4][5] Though it was not their main concern, critics also noted that if the entire course of the river were diverted to make electricity, the Athirappilly-Vazhachal waterfalls could dry up. To avoid damaging the falls, the KSEB proposed adjusting the water releases to maintain the falls.[4] The debate continued in 2007. Environmentalists also expressed concern over whether the proposed hydroelectric project at Athirappilly waterfalls would lead to displacement and eventual extinction of the primitive tribal group, `Kadars,' in the area. [6] In 2005, the Kerala Ministry of Environment and Forests approved the project on the basis of a report by Water and Power Consultancy Services (India) Ltd. (WAPCOS), an environmental impact assessment (EIA) agency. In 2006, the Kerala High Court quashed the clearance and ordered another public hearing.[7][8] The debate continued the following years.

On 29th Jan 2011, the chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) Madhav Gadgil opined that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Athirappilly hydel power project was not properly carried out and 70% of it is bogus. The panel, appointed by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, was asked to look into and give recommendations on various projects in the Western Ghats such as the hydroelectric projects in Gundiya in Karnataka and Athirappilly in Kerala and the overall development projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra. Gadgil said that the proposed Athirappilly hydro-electric project cannot be approved until the Forest Rights Act is implemented in its true spirit for the Kadar tribal community of the area and also no comprehensive study had been carried out so far on the natural riparian forest vegetation along the Western Ghats.[9][10][11] On 14th Jun 2011, Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said his ministry would not grant approval to the Athirappilly hydro electric project.[12] The Minister also stated "When states are denied such projects on larger and long-term environmental considerations, they are entitled to some sort of green bonus," [13] The first part of WGEEP report was submitted to the Ministry on August 31.The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), on Sep 6th 2011 recommended to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests against granting permission to carry out any construction activities at the sensitive Athirappilly-Vazhachal region. The panel, which submitted its report to Union Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan in the Capital, named Athirappilly as one of the 18 eco-sensitive localities (ESL) in the state.[14]

A former member of KSEB with generation project, K Radhakrishnan, opined that WGEEP report was biased and the project was eco-friendly doing minimum damage to environment and forests, though with the lack of computational model when rainfall is decreasing by the effect of El Niño.[15][16][17] Electricity Pensioners Welfare Association a forum of senior power personnel of Kerala headed by K Radhakrishnan viewed the Gadgil panel report as unproductive and overly concerned about environmental issues.[18] Of late The Central Water commission has given approval to the project if the project doesn't affect the ecological balance, could maintain a flow for the waterfalls without defacing it or doesn't bring out any socio-cultural disputes. In 2016, Kerala Chief minister and Minister for power, Pinarayi Vijayan has indicated that they will consider implementation of the project disregard of the public opinion that rises from emotional sentiment.[19] Environmental activists opposing the project and even by Left sympathizers, criticized the government's proceedings, for making public announcements in the cabinet without any consensus on the issue and it shouldn't be based on winning any previous grudge or proving judgmental validity.[20] When first the project came forward Communist party of Kerala was against this project and surveys conducted among people by television channels also polled negative response.[21] The hydel project is also reported to be anti-people and only would harm the state’s interest when it takes away water from an existing irrigation system, which covers 20,000 acres of farmland downstream and about 5 lakh people reportedly depend upon the river for drinking and irrigation purposes.[22] But experienced and retired inclined members of KSEB like K. Radhakrishnan, who have been campaigning for the implementation of the Athirappilly hydroelectric project for long and has welcomed the decision with overly exaggerated results like monthly 20 megawatts and if other issues could dismissed it could be topped over 40 megawatts per month according to the summer seasons while Power Survey Report, estimate the state’s power requirement to reach at 6500 MW by 2020.[23][24] Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forest T M Manoharan, who was the Chairman of the Kerala State Electricity Board opposed the project citing the harm it could cause to the environment and ecology of the area.[25] Other studies for the feasibility of the project was also negative like the report in 2007 by B S Vijayan, Kerala State Biodiversity Board also pointed out that the power project would adversely affect the ecology of the area.[25] Jairam Ramesh, Former Environment Minister said this decision to be a "perfect recipe for ecological disaster".

According to a KSEB member and former executive engineer Augustine Xavier opined that ideally the state’s per capita consumption should be 5000 units. For this to be achieved, the state power consumption should increase to 1,65,000 million units. At the moment, the state's yearly consumption is just over 23,000 million units. In this scenario a mere 200 million units will be like a drop in the ocean. M. Sivasankar, KSEB chairman and MD said the crisis could be overcome through the commissioning of a super thermal power station, which uses an environment-friendly super critical boiler. 1200-MW Cheemeni Power Project is such a stalled project pending implementation studies and lobbying central government with development requirements. Reports and public polls is in consensus with seeking alternative sources for achieving a semblance of self-sufficiency in terms of electricity requirements than investing time and money on nonstrategic myopic hydel projects.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ATHIRAPILLY WATER FALLS". Official website of Thrissur District. National Informatics Centre, Ministry C & IT, Department of IT, Government of India,. Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  2. ^ (17/02/2010) Biodiversity in danger?
  3. ^ "Environmental clearances quashed." The Indus Telegraph, March 30, 2006. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
  4. ^ a b [1] The Hindu, June 16, 2006
  5. ^ "Protests mark hearing on Athirappilly project." The Hindu, June 16, 2006. Retrieved on August 3, 2007.
  6. ^ "Kadar tribe faces threat of displacement" The Hindu, February 20, 2006.
  7. ^ "Public hearing on Athirappilly project today." The Hindu, June 15, 2006. Retrieved on August 3, 2007.
  8. ^ "Athirappilly: panel interacts with people." The Hindu, April 14, 2007. Retrieved on August 3, 2007.
  9. ^ "Kadar's community rights not recognised: Gadgil " The Hindu, January 30, 2011.
  10. ^ "70% of EIA report bogus, says Gadgil." The Hindu, January 31, 2011.
  11. ^ "Fears on Athirappilly EIA proved true, says Viswom." The Hindu, February 1, 2011.
  12. ^ "No nod to power project and stadium in Kerala: Ramesh" Business Standard, June 14, 2011.
  13. ^ "Athirappilly project: Ramesh moots green bonus" IBNLive, June 14, 2011.
  14. ^ "Athirappilly Project to remain a pipe dream" IBNLive,September 8, 2011.
  15. ^ http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/kerala-gets-first-heat-wave-warning-on-blazing-el-nino-trail/article8528743.ece
  16. ^ "Panel report on Athirapally project biased -K Radhakrishnan" - , The Hindu, January 1, 2012
  17. ^ Former KSEB official lashes out at report - The Hindu, September 27, 2012
  18. ^ "Gadgil panel report biased -Electricity Pensioners Welfare Association" -The Hindu. October 29, 2013
  19. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/kadar-tribespeople-seek-legal-recourse/article8675157.ece
  20. ^ http://www.kaumudi.com/innerpage1.php?newsid=78692
  21. ^ http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/Kerala-CMs-stand-on-Athirappilly-Mullaperiyar-suspicious-Kumanam/2016/06/01/article3460379.ece
  22. ^ http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/athirapally-power-project-pinarayi-vijayan-kerala-hydel-power-project-2828032/
  23. ^ a b http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/310516/kerala-growing-powder-divide.html
  24. ^ Energy expert hails the Government stand The Hindu, 30/05/2016
  25. ^ a b http://kaumudiglobal.com/innerpage1.php?newsid=78708

External links[edit]