Rly minister red signals Hubballi-Ankola line

Rly minister red signals Hubballi-Ankola line

Ankola graphics

The Railway Ministry is likely to put the Hubballi-Ankola line project in cold storage due to the delay in getting green clearance as it required large tracts of forest land in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats region.

When Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy met Railway Minister Piyush Goyal here on Thursday to apprise him about pending railway projects in Karnataka, the minister clearly said it was impossible to implement the project as they were finding it difficult to get environment and forest clearances.

“The Railway Ministry is not going to take up projects which require acquisition of huge forests lands. Whenever the ministry took up such projects, it faced court battle. Instead of spending huge money for legal battle, the national transporter is keen to utilise money for projects which can be implemented fast,” the Railway minister told the chief minister.

“The minister asked me not to press for the project as they don’t want to spend money for legal battle. Instead, they want to take up projects which face no hurdles,” the chief minister said.

“Even if the Ministry of Environment gives its clearance, environmentalists will approach court again. We have to spend huge money for legal battle. The Railways is not in a position to spend money unnecessarily,” Kumaraswamy said, quoting the minister.

The chief minister, however, said the state would continue to pursue the project with the Centre as this would be a gateway from North Karnataka to West Coast and help improve economic activities in the backward region of Karnataka.

The proposed 168.28-km railway line requires diversion of 569 hectares of forest land in Karwar, Yellapur and Dharwad divisions of Western Ghats. The project not only passes through tiger and elephant corridors, but also requires felling of around two lakh trees. 

The project was announced in 1997 and the foundation stone was laid in 1999. Opposing the project, greens approached the Supreme Court, which referred the matter to its Central Empowered Committee. Earlier, a site inspection committee of the National Tiger Conservation Authority gave a report against the project. Recently, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had asked the State Wildlife Board to look into the project.

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