Short Note on Silent Valley Movement

Silent Valley is moist evergreen tropical forest spread over 90 kilometers and situated in Palakkad district of Kerala. This densely forested valley is highly deep and peaceful. Environmentalists argue that the valley was one of the world’s richest biological and genetic heritages, one of the few remaining rainforests in India and home for over 900 species of flowering plants and many endangered species of animals and birds. In 1973, the Planning Commission of India approved a hydropower project at a cost of about Rs 25 crores on the river ‘Kunthipunza’ flowing across the valley with an objective to generate 240 MW electricity. Romulus Whitaker, founder of the Madras Snake Park and the Madras Crocodile Bank, was probably the first person to draw public attention to the small and remote area. And then the people opposed raising its threat on ecology, forest cover and animals, many of which belonged to endangered categories. The Kerala Sastriya Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) launched a mass movement. The Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) an NGO, and the poet-activist Sughatha Kumari played an important role in the Silent Valley protests.

Many feared that the project would submerge 8.3 sq km of untouched moist evergreen forest. Several NGOs strongly opposed the project and urged the government to abandon it. In January 1981, bowing to unrelenting public pressure, Indira Gandhi declared that Silent Valley will be protected. In June 1983 the center re-examined the issue through a commission chaired by Prof. M.G.K. Menon. In November 1983 the Silent Valley Hydroelectric Project was called off. In 1985, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi formally inaugurated the Silent Valley National Park. Moreover, the National Committee on Environmental Planning (NCEP) also gave negative reports. These developments compelled the Kerala Government to call off the project in December 1980. The Silent Valley was converted into a National Park so that its ecological surroundings are preserved.

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