Javadekar urged to reject railway line

#GS3 #Environment

What is the issue?

A group of 120 ecologists and activists has written to Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, urging him to reject the proposal for the Hubballi­Ankola railway line as it will destroy forests in the Western Ghats. 


Who approved?

Karnataka State Board for Wildlife approved the Hubballi­Ankola railway line


Hubbali-Ankola Railway 

  • Ministry of Railways sanctioned the construction of the 168.289 KM broad gauge railway line from Hubli (Dharwad District) to Ankola (Uttara Kannada District) of Karnataka, to provide a direct rail link to the coast back in 1998.
  • The primary objective of the project was to accommodate the increase in iron ore freight capacity from the Ballari­Hosapete region to the Western coastal ports
  • Officials supportive of the project argued that the railway line did not cut through a protected area and was outside it, and hence the permission of the board was not required. 
  • The project was rejected by the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court, Ministry of Environment and Forests and  The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). 


 Environmental Impact

  • The region to be affected by the project was home to more than 300 species of animals that come under the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  • Fragmentation of the forest by the railway line would restrict the movement of tigers, elephants, and lion-­tailed macaques. 
  • Forestd welling communities such as Gowlis, Siddis, Kunbis, and Halakkivokkaligas who depend on collected forest produce such as honey, wax, shikakai, cane, and cashew will be affected.
  • Two major protected areas will be affected: 
    • Kali Tiger Reserve 
    • Bedthi Conservation Reserve.
  • It is set to destroy 596 hectares of forest in the Western Ghats. It is a threat to 1.58 lakh trees that will be cut in one of the most vital, biodiverse, and pristine ecosystems in our country, as well as in the world.
  • The railway line would cause irreversible damage, diminishing the already receding forest cover in the Uttara Kannada region too. 


Kali Tiger Reserve:

  • Kali Tiger Reserve is located in the central portion of the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka state.
  • The Tiger Reserve comprises two important protected areas of the region: 
  • Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary 
  • Anshi National Park.
  • These two protected areas are contiguous to each other and form a single tract of the protected area located in the biologically sensitive Western Ghats.
  • Forests of the Tiger Reserve are primarily moist deciduous and semi-evergreen, with excellent patches of evergreen forests in the westernmost parts as well as in deep valleys.
  • Animals found in the Tiger Reserve include Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Bison, Wild dog, Sambar, Spotted deer, Sloth bear, Wild boar, Hanuman langur, Bonnet macaque, varieties of reptiles and birds, etc.


State Boards for Wildlife: 

  • SBWL is constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • The SBWL is headed by the Chief Minister, with the Forest Minister of the State as the Vice-Chair.
  • State Boards for Wildlife advises the state governments in the selection and management of protected areas and other matters connected with the protection of wildlife.


Way forward: 

  • Government, civil societies, and stakeholders are largely required to collaborate with each other for balancing sustainable development with development.
  • At this point, the government has to be extra-cautious about the environmental impacts of any project. 
  • Conservation of the flora and fauna has to be a given huge priority.


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