Goa power line could harm Western Ghats

Last Updated 18 July 2019, 08:33 IST

Karnataka could lose a whopping 177 hectares of biodiversity-rich Western Ghats forest land due to a proposed transmission line between Karnataka and Goa. If the Centre clears the project, this will be another blow to the evergreen forest, which is already facing multiple threats due to linear infrastructure projects all along Karnataka.

The 400 kV transmission line will power Goa with an additional source from Chhattisgarh by the Goa-Tamnar Transmission Project Ltd (GTTPL). The lines will pass through Karnataka, wiping out 177 hectares of forest land.

According to sources in the central government, the project requires the consent of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and is awaiting approval from the MoEF&CC.

According to documents obtained from the Centre, the project was first mooted during 2017 when the Central Electricity Authority under the Ministry of Power made a request for executing ‘Additional 400kV feed to Goa’.

The transmission line starts from Narendra village in Dharwad by tapping the existing 400kV Narendra line of Power Grid Corporation of India and terminates at 400/200 kV substation at Xeldom in Goa.

The transmission line will pass through Dharwad, Belgaum and Uttara Kannada and South Goa district of Goa, the document says.

The justification for laying the transmission line through the forest area has been provided by the GTTPL deputy manager to the Centre, a copy of which has been accessed by DH. The project proponents have suggested three alternative routes, out of which the one passing through the proposed alignment affects the lesser forest area.

“Transmission line projects are eco-friendly and do not involve any disposal of hazardous substance in land, air and water. The constructional features of 400kV transmission line are such that it is not affecting the environment as it’s not dividing the existing forest because of long spans between the towers (400 mtrs). The layout of the transmission line follows along the forest road/forest block boundary thus involving minimum tree felling and also allowing free movement of birds due to high tower heights of 45-50 mtrs,” the report said.

A wildlife activist from Belagavi, Manoj said, “By any general parameters, the foremost option for such projects is to avoid important wildlife habitats, as the project will have immediate and long-term negative impacts on both the ecological and social system."

"In case such projects cannot be prevented, absence of any alternatives and realignments are almost impossible, so it is necessary that mitigation measures are considered and implemented," he added. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Punati Sridhar said, “The project is still at the field level and the Centre has not asked for our views.”

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Jag Mohan Sharma said, “The entire procedure of clearance is made online and once the application is complete, the proposal will be sent for field verification, during which the department will respond with its own observations.”

(Published 21 May 2019, 19:04 IST)

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