Greens oppose proposal for highway through forest

Greens oppose proposal for highway through forest

A view of the rain forest in Shishila-Bhairapura region.

Environmentalists have urged the state and the Union governments to drop the proposal to lay a national highway inside the forest of Shishila-Bhairapura. 

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has sought permission from the Ministry of Environment and Forest for the four-laning of Chitradurga-Bantwal Road.

The road will destroy the rain forest in Western Ghat ranges of Shishila-Bhairapura limits, the environmentalists have said.

The project envisages four-laning 228-km stretch of NH 173. In the first phase, a Rs 2,500 crore grant has been earmarked for the project. As the highway will pass through the reserve forest ranges of Chikkamagaluru, Hassan and Dakshina Kannada districts, the NHAI has decided to seek permission from the ministry.  

Bhadra Wildlife Conservation trustee D V Girish, Sridev Huliker of Wildcat C and Wildlife activist G Veeresh said 7.95 hectares of forest land in Balooru Reserve forest in Mudigere taluk, 144.02 hectares of Shola forest, grassland, rain forest, forest in revenue land situated adjacent to forest area, 7.35 hectares of Kabbinale reserve forest in Hassan division and 1.55 hectares of forest in revenue land attached to it, 44.83 hectares forest in Miyaru in Dakshina Kannada and 42.75 hectares Shola forest, grassland and forest on revenue land will be affected by the four-laning of the national highway. 

The proposal submitted by the NHAI does not have complete details on the road that passes through the forest area, they said.

In a public grievances redressal meeting organised by the NHAI, the members of the public had opposed the laying of the national highway on Shishila-Bhairapura limits. 

Further, environmentalists said that Bhairapura to Shishila comprises sensitive rain forest. Hundreds of rivulets, streams, rivers like Kapila, Nethravathi and Shishila originate in these forests. The region receives 350 to 400 inches of rainfall in a year. The passing of the highway inside the forest will result in the destruction of trees and also affect Shola forest and grassland. Shiradi Ghat and Charmadi Ghat provide connectivity to Dakshina Kannada, they said.

With the four-laning of the national highway, the rain forest will disappear, they expressed concern. 

There are several state highways to connect Dakshina Kannada. What was the need to develop a national highway at the cost of the forests? they questioned.