|The most ambitious rail project of Karnataka - the Hubballi-Ankola rail line - got green clearance on Monday, albeit with certain conditions stipulated by the Regional Empowered Committee (REC) of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.Upon fulfillment of these conditions, the REC will issue stage-1 clearance for the project.|
As the rail project passes through Bedthi Conservation Reserve and Hornbill Conservation Reserve and overlaps the buffer zone of Kali Tiger Reserve and elephant corridors, the user agency should submit appropriate proposals for consideration by the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife, the committee added.
With respect to the felling of over 2 lakh trees for this project, the REC has asked the Forest Department to submit complete information species-wise and girth class-wise. Further, the compensatory afforestation scheme in lieu of this should be prepared, keeping in mind the revenue land (2,500 acres) surrendered under Kudremukh Project (as the state government was in the process of acquiring these lands at the earliest) or any other degraded forest land.
Greens see red Environmentalists say that the implementation of this project, pending for three decades, is bound to destroy prime forests of Western Ghats, premier wildlife habitat and elephant corridors. Further, death knell will sound for at least 2 lakh trees.
Nearly 596 hectares across Karwar, Yellapur and Dharwad divisions will be diverted for the construction of the new broad gauge rail line from the hinterland (Hubballi) to the Western coastal region (Ankola) in Uttara Kannada district.
Ullas Karanth, tiger biologist and Director for Science-Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society, said, “We are fortunate to have a unique biodiversity in the form of Western Ghats, which should not be disturbed. Many unplanned infrastructure and rail and road routes already criss-cross biodiversity regions, be it Bandipur or Nagarhole, which have had adverse impact. We should have a 100-year plan for smart, infrastructure corridors. Now, it is too late to protest. This should have been done before the takeoff of this rail project from the hinterland to the west coast.”
THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS