- An underground pipeline connecting two major reservoirs, and power stations situated underneath a pristine reserve forest are part of an ambitious ₹5,000-crore project that environmentalists say will leave an indelible mark on the flora and fauna of the Western Ghats.
- The Sharavati Pumped Storage project, envisioned to generate 2,000 MW of electricity, is situated just 3.5 km from the Sharavati Wildlife Sanctuary and is expected to consume nearly 150 hectares or 371 acres of Jog Reserve Forest.
- The forests come between the sanctuary, Aghanashini Lion-tailed Macaque Conservation Reserve, and is part of the key, contiguous forest corridor of the Western Ghats.
- This stretch is dense evergreen forest. Even if it is underground, construction will see cutting of thousands of trees, setting up of township and new roads. It is an ecological disaster that will destroy a vital habitat of the endangered lion-tailed macaque.
- The proposed area of construction comes within the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) limits as shown by the December 2015 draft around Sharavati Wildlife Sanctuary, particularly in the N. Talakalale village. Once ESZ norms are applied, the area would see a near prohibition on new hydro-electric projects.
- However, in their letter to the MoEF, the project proponents have only mentioned that Gerusoppa village — which comes on the other side of the reservoir — has been excluded from the ESZ list.
- “This is sheer manipulation of the ESZ area. The project falls entirely in ESZ area.