Ankola rly line: MoEF refers decision to Wildlife Board

Ankola-Hubballi railway project was one of the 50-odd proposals that were discussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife in New Delhi on Friday. DH File Photo

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) on Friday deferred a decision on the controversial Hubballi-Ankola railway line and asked the Karnataka Wildlife Board to have look at the Karnataka railway project first.

“We have referred the project to the Karnataka State Wildlife Board. Let them have a look at the proposal. We will take a call once the state board submits a report to us,” C K Mishra, Union Environment and Forest Ministry told DH.

The north Karnataka railway project was one of the 50-odd proposals that were discussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife here. Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan chaired the meeting. Asked whether the project has been rejected by the Standing Committee as alleged from certain quarters, Mishra said such claims were incorrect. “No final decision has been taken. Let the state board have a look at it first,” he said.

DH on Friday reported violation of several rules in the controversial project. The project envisages diversion of 595.64 hectares of dense forests spanning three elephant corridors in Dharwad (42 ha), Yellapur (304.06 ha), and Karwar (249.58 ha). The project was proposed first in 1996 and work started in 2001. In 2006, green activists approached the Supreme Court against the railway link because of its potential to cause large-scale environmental damage.

A site inspection committee of the National Tiger Conservation Authority gave an adverse report against the project.

“The proposed railway line from Hubballi to Ankola passes through Uttara Kannada district, which has very dense forest cover and cuts across the Western Ghats - a biodiversity hotspot and a World Heritage Site. It also fragments the old migration path of India elephants. The proposed railway line will be having significant negative impact on long-term conservation of tigers and other mega herbivores in the Western Ghats landscape by fragmenting existing habitat connectivity and contiguity,” a senior environment ministry official informed the Standing Committee in a previous meeting on March 27.

Karnataka wildlife department recommended the proposal with the condition that the mitigation measures suggested by Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, must be strictly implemented. The proposal said post facto approval of the State Wildlife Board will be taken later.

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Ankola rly line: MoEF refers decision to Wildlife Board

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