Published by: HARDIK VERMA

Special Student Columnist


Save Silent Valley was a social movement focused on the protection of Kerala, India's Silent Valley, an evergreen tropical forest in the Palakkad district. An NGO led by teachers and the Kerala Sastra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) began in 1973 to spare the Silent Valley from being overflowed by a hydroelectric plant. The valley was designated in 1985 as the Silent Valley National Park. Kuntipuzha is a major waterway 15 km southwest of the Silent Valley. It's rooted in the lavish green forests of the Silent Valley. The region at Sairandhri on the Kunthipuzha River was recognized as an ideal place for the age of power in 1928. In 1970, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) proposed a hydroelectric dam over the Kunthipuzha River that passes through the Silent Valley, reducing the immaculate soggy evergreen forest by 8.3 sq km. The planning commission supported the undertaking in February 1973 at the cost of about Rs 25 crores. The narrative of the creation of the Silent Valley provides valuable exercises throughout the nation and outside for governments and natural innovations. In the last part of the 1970s and the mid-80s, the development against the development of a dam in the Silent Valley Forests near Palakkad was the first of its kind in Quite a while. Before that, the overall experience was that developments against enormous dams and hydroelectric companies were initiated by local people who were affected. Yet, due to the Silent Valley Initiative, there was no compelling cause for even a small population to clear up. The primary concern of the people who began the production was the adverse effect the business would have on the environment.


The construction of the Idukki hydroelectric company was approaching completion in 1974 and the state government was looking for new hydroelectric tasks to fulfill the power requirements of the state. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) submitted a proposal for the construction of a hydroelectric venture in the Silent Valley region of Palakkad to the Kerala government. The legislature approved the initiative in 1977 and decided to proceed with the task.[2]

The same year, an investigation was conducted by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) in Peechi, near Thrissur, into the conceivable impact of an undertaking on forests in the state. The inquiry concluded that the Silent Valley evergreen tropical jungles would be completely decimated by the undertaking. V.S. Vijayan, who later became head of the Salim Ali Ornithology Center and vice chairman of the Kerala Bio-Diversity Board, was a KFRI scientist and a member of the research group that led the investigation. He took it to the educator M.K. notification. Prasad, an instructor of herbal science and a functioning person from the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, an association established in the state to spread logical knowledge.

Professor Prasad was alarmed by the project's adverse ecological effects and placed the problem before the KSSPP Executive Committee[3]. At that time, the group had settled itself as one with a vision to take science to the people. It had a grassroots level organization and its individuals were some notable scholars and scholarly citizens of the state. Assessments were isolated into the leading board of the KSSP in the underlying phases, and a portion of the people argued that slowing down the mission would hinder the improvement of the state. The KSSP resolved in 1978 that the venture would have genuine unfriendly ecological outcomes, after ample exploration of the practicality as well as the biological sections of the assignment. The profit of the venture was found not to be equivalent to the expense in question. So, the KSSP decided against the Silent Valley Project to start development.


A legislature led by P.K. in 1978, The Communist Party of India's (CPI) Vasudevan Nair was in power in Kerala. A party from Congress drove by A.K. Various members of the decision-making front were Antony, the Muslim League, and the Kerala Congress. Separate resistance blocks were formed by the CPI (Marxist) and Congress (Indira). The undertaking was upheld by all ideological parties in the decision and the resistance rules.[4]

The amazing guilds of workers, particularly the associations of power board laborer’s, eagerly upheld the venture. As a large number of its citizens were dynamic individuals or supporters of the gathering, the CPI (M) position was specifically messed up for the KSSP. In this respect, the first undertaking of the KSSP was to convince its individuals of the unfriendly effects of the company.

The Kerala government had three major points[5] In pursuit of its decision to create a dam across the Kunti River, a Bhratapuzha tributary, and a Silent Valley hydroelectric project.

· It would help meet the growing power demand in the state and solve the acute power shortage in the Malabar region.

· The project would bring about development in the two most backward districts of Kerala – Palakkad, and Malappuram.

· Around 10,000 hectares of land could be irrigated via canals in the Mannarkadu region.

The KSSP faced real obstacles in their effort to address this progressive way of speaking. In the first place, the general concept of improvement has consistently been synonymous with enormous dams. As 'environment' and 'nature' were new words for the overall population, based on ecological considerations, the association did not advocate its motivation in the underlying stages. Kerala is a highly politicized society and it was a very troublesome job to organize a people's development with all the major ideological groups supporting the venture. Furthermore, the KSSP needed to combat the passageways of intensity with highly compelling personal stakes. KSEB was the most important among them. In an extraordinary offer of unity, all KSEB staff, from the top executive to the base linesmen, had an individual premium in the assignment on the basis that enormous cash was included.

The Valley was home to numerous species native to the territory, including the lion-tailed macaque, which faced the danger of extinction. The then chief executive, Indira Gandhi, asked the state government to desert the operation in 1980. She transmitted a National Park to the area and by 1984 the imperative laws were in power to ensure the status. The creation ended in advancing exact clearances, remembering a mandatory report to be shipped from the focal government for endorsement of any essential natural impact projects for ecological effect assessment. The accomplishment of the 'Save Silent Valley' crusade was the catalyst for comparative tumults, comparable to the Narmada Bachao Andolan and exhibits against the Tehri Dam. Today, the beautiful style of the virgin trees and the recreation center bear quiet observation of what a submitted band of instinctively cognizant individuals will accomplish if they assemble.

In the media too, the fight for the Silent Valley denotes an unmistakable bend. The key papers in Malayalam have optimistic sections on the hydroelectric project, to begin with. By 1977, four years after the mission was endorsed and the earthy people started to censor it, the media generally conveyed only the inclusion of the efforts of the administration to dispatch the undertaking at that point. The feeling of publication strongly supports the operation and 'growth' on the few occasions it is communicated. Additionally, a few deliveries take shots of the lion-followed macaque, which has become a picture of the untamed life that earthy people are trying to guarantee in the Silent Valley.[6]


In 2001, another hydro storey was suggested and the "man versus monkey banter" was resurrected. The dam site is only 3.5 km downstream from the old dam site of Sairandhiri, 500 m past the public park limits. For the 84 km2 catchment of the undertaking area, 79 km2 of the Silent Valley National Par was recalled. The Kerala Minister of Electricity called the Pathrakkadavu Dam (PHEP) an "eco-friendly substitute" for the old Silent Valley conspiracy. The PHEP was gracefully arranged as a run-off-the-waterway venture with an incorporated first stage limit of 70 MW and 214 million units (Mu) of power with a required gross stockpiling limit of 0.872 million cubic meters. The truth was that during the 1970s, the PHEP submergence zone would have a minor 0.041 km2 comparative to the 8.30 km2 submergence. Nevertheless, the grand cascade between the Neelikkal and Pathrakkadav slopes flanking the Quiet Valley would vanish if the arranged Pathrakkadavu hydro-electric dam were to begin.

The Thiruvananthapuram-based Environmental Resources Research Center conducted a rapid Environmental Impact Assessment from January to May 2003 and its report was circulated in December to ensure that the forest lost due to the project will be just 0.2216 km2, except the 7.4 km access road and land to be purchased for the Karapadam force to be reckoned with. No more was heard until 15 November 2006, when Minister Binoy Viswam of the Kerala Forest said that the proposed buffer zone for the Silent Valley would soon be declared.

"Chief Minister A. K. Antony told correspondents after a bureau meeting on 21 February 2007 that"[8] since the Silent Valley plan was rejected, the middle had consented to give the Pooyamkutty venture freedom. Notwithstanding, this responsibility was not maintained. No choice on restoring the Silent Valley Hydel Project was taken by the Kerala government.


On 22 March 2007, the extremist writer Sugathakumari engaged the Chief Minister of Kerala to keep the Minister of Electricity from restoring the Pathrakkadavu hydroelectric dam scheme. On 18 April 2007, Kerala Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan and his office affirmed the Pathrakkadavu Hydro-electric Dam and submitted it to the Union Government for natural leeway.

On 6 June 2007, the Cabinet of Kerala officially approved the Silent Valley, Buffer Zone. Besides, the cabinet approved 35 area safety staff and two new forest stations at Anavai and Thudukki in the Bhavani range. The purpose of the zone is to track and encourage the long-term survival of the protected area in areas adjacent to the Silent Valley for the illegal cultivation, poaching, and illicit brewing of ganja.

Footnotes: [1] Ministry of Environment and Forests, ic/wssd/doc.3, Chapter 18, "Storm over Silent Valley, A Peoples Movement Saves A Valley" A Peoples Movement [2] https://thewire.in/environment/kerala-ecology-athirappally-project [3] ibid [4] Silent valley Padhathi: Parishathinte Nilapadum Vishadeekaranavum (The Silent Valley Project: Parishad’s stand and explanation), a pamphlet published by KSSP (March 1980) in Malayalam dealt with the position of KSSP regarding the project and explains how it rejects the power project. [5] ibid [6] https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-others/tp-states/article28862544.ece [7] Times of India, "No decision yet on Silent Valley: Antony" Feb. 23.No decision yet [8] ibid