Power Minister MM Mani on Saturday inaugurated the 110KV Cherai substation project in Ernakulam, which had created much controversy for drawing electric supply line through Santhivanam, a 200-year-old sacred grove in the district, which is home to a variety of unique flora and fauna.
The construction of Cherai substation and Mannam-Cherai electricity supply line were carried out by Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) amidst much protest from the owner of Santhivanam, Meena Menon, after she alleged that the route of the transmission line was changed from its original proposal to let it pass through the green cover.
With this, regions in Vypeen Island such as Cherai, Munambam, Edavanakad, North Paravur, Njarackal and Vadakkekara will have uninterrupted power supply from now on.
Despite the efforts of several environmental activists and supporters who came out in support of Meena Menon against the KSEB, the state government was standing firm that it will move ahead with the project. Last week, with the Kerala High Court too dismissing Meena Menonâ€™s plea to stop KSEB from drawing the line through the two-acre forest cover, the protest committee of Santhivanam was also dissolved.
Santhivanam consists of three big sacred groves, three big ponds and a temple, which is traditionally run by Meenaâ€™s family.
One out of the 30 towers in the project passes through Santhivanam. Though the project got administrative sanction in 1999, the work started only by 2018 due to various obstacles. During the inauguration, MM Mani appreciated the officials for completing the work within 13 months amidst protests. Though the state government said that only minimal damage has been incurred to Santhivanam, environmental activists state otherwise.
According to KSEB, there has been an additional cost of Rs 27 lakh for minimising the damage caused to Santhivanam. As per reports, the tower in Santhivanam and the adjacent area was proposed to be 19.4 metres high but was raised to 22.4 metres.