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THE DAMNING OF COORG CONTINUES

Please note that all the information contained in our four-part article “Dams for Coorg or the Damning of Coorg” is based on facts, and these facts have been taken from studies made by some of the most prestigious and experienced bodies from around the world with regard to dams and their environmental, social and economic impact. The following is a list of just some of the agencies whose work was used:

From the Federal Government of the United States of America:
The US. Dept. of the Interior,
The US Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Services,
The US. Dept. of Reclamation,
The US National Park Service,
The US Geological Survey,
The US Dept. of Energy,
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
The General Accounting Office (GAO) of the USA,
The US Army Corps of Engineers—the single-most experienced dam-building agency in the world, having built dams not only in the USA, but worldwide.

From the Canadian Government: corresponding agencies of its federal government with studies including those done on the Columbia River Basin Project, as well as studies done by Canadian scientists detailing the effects dams have had on water quality and aquatic life in Lake Ontario.

From the State Government of Michigan, USA;
The Dept. of Natural Resources,
The Dept. of Environmental Quality

Also from the USA, Canada and Europe:
The Foundation for Water & Energy Education—an organization whose sponsors include the US Dept. of Energy, the US Bureau of Reclamation and most of the major Electricity Companies that provide electricity to the northwestern states of the USA. Plus, studies detailed by IDSNet.org, International Rivers Network and Echo Danube Website, including studies on the dams of the Amazon Basin and the adverse effects these have had on the environment.

Finally, from “Dams & Development: A New Framework for Decision Making”—the report given by the World Commission on Dams (WCD)—an organization formed in 1998 by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union. The WCD appointed 12 commissioners from around the world—including one from India—whose professions ranged from an executive officer of a major engineering company to an environmentalist. The Commission took two years to study the environmental, economic and social impacts that dams have had globally. The Commission’s Report was launched on November 16th 2000 by such international luminaries as Nelson Mandela of South Africa—Chairperson of the World Water Forum 2000, Mary Robinson—United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and the head of the World Conservation Union Maritta von Bieberstein, who summarized the Commission’s findings by stating: “Dams have resulted in irreversible loss of species and ecosystems…their (the dams’) impact on ecosystems is mostly negative.”





 

The Commission’s report goes on to state that, in virtually every case, there has been an “unacceptable and unnecessary price paid” in trying to achieve the goals the dams were built for, whether that be generation of electricity, irrigation, etc. Example: electrical power generation by dams is usually 50% of what the dam was supposed to generate.
The Commission’s report continues its damning assessment of dams by stating, “Dams cause great environmental damage including (but not limited to) extinction of many fish and aquatic species, huge losses of forest, wetlands and farmland, pollution, nutrient removal, and species extinction.”
Dr. Graham Harris—Chief of the Land and Water Division of the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization based in Australia—echoed the Commission’s report while adding his own observations, stating, “Australia’s rivers show severe signs of degradation through regulation by dams and other habitat destruction.”
The Declaration of the WCD was signed by 109 NGOs from 39 countries, and concluded by asking public funding agencies to halt all financial support for dams. Hence we can see that experts around the world have damned the disastrous effects dams have environmentally, economically and socially.
Now we hear that another dam is being built a mere 50 metres from Kodagu on the Kerala side of the Kerala/Kodagu border. If this dam is built, over 300 square kms. of land will be submerged—most of that being right here in Coorg. According to the newly-formed Kodagu Anekattu Virodha Samithi, at least 17 villages in Coorg will be submerged if this dam is built: Begur, Hudikeri, Kuttandi, Cheenivada, Hysudlur, Badagarakeri, Birunani, V Badaga, Paragatakeri, Beeruga, Kurchi, Pookola, T Shettigeri, Ballyamandur, Chikkamandur and B Shettigeri.
And where is the electricity going to go that is generated by the dam after it drowns our forest and villages? Answer: to one state-owned company in Kerala, namely Travancore Cochin Chemical Mills.
But is this really the reason for the dam’s construction and our district’s devastation? Or is it because the timber mafia wants to cash in on the prized Ebony trees that will be chopped down in our Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve Forests to make way for the dam! In the same way, this group of greedy men are pressing to draw high tension electricity cables through Kodagu’s Reserve Forests so they can cash in on the 4000 or so trees—again many of them being Ebony—that will be chopped down for this insane project!
Is the earthquake that just rattled Goa and Maharashtra on the afternoon of 14th March 2005 an omen of things to come here—of the earthquakes that will surely hit Kodagu and Kerala once these dams are built? The epicenter of this latest quake was once again the Koyna dam region—the epicenter of two deadlier quakes in the past, but an area that had never experienced a quake in living memory before the Koyna dam was built.

WAKE UP PEOPLE OF KODAGU AND HEAR THE RUMBLING COMING—the rumbling of quakes beneath the earth, the rumbling of water flooding through your villages and forests, the rumbling of death drums beating if we do not act NOW! Join in the protest marches, like the one planned on the 18th of March to the Barapolay project site! And if you cannot join in the march, then go to the Planters’ Club for the meeting on the dam—also held on the 18th—to let this electricity company and their supporters know just how much you care and oppose these disastrous projects! Support the organizations fighting these destructive projects, like the Kodagu Anekattu Virodha Samithi (an umbrella organization which includes Kavery Sene, Barapolay Horata Samithi, Coorg Wildlife Society, Kodagu Model Forest Trust, Akhila Kodava Samaja and several others.) The Trustees of SAI Sanctuary Trust wholeheartedly support this group and all groups in this righteous and holy endeavor to save Kodagu and its people. Let ours not be the fate of those in the Narmada Valley or the Tehri mountains in the Himalayas. Rise up! Fight the dams! Save Kodagu!

 


From the Trustees of SAI Sanctuary Trust

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