The pristine Silent Valley National Park in Kerala, one of the last tropical refuges of rare flora and fauna, is again at the centre of a row between environmentalists and big dam advocates. A new dam in Palakkad district is 3.5 km downstream from the old site at Sairendri (local name for the Valley), and 500 metres below the national park boundary. The dam’s catchment area is the 84-sq-km Silent Valley. The Kerala State Electricity Board, which has proposed a 70-MW dam at Paathrakadavu in the Valley’s buffer zone, says it’s just a ‘mini dam’. But environmentalists say it’ll cause irreparable damage and they have the support of 20 of the 26-odd panchayats in the area. The Kunthi river is the lone ‘un-dammed’ tributary of Kerala’s largest river, Bharathapuzha.