High court stays highway plan in pristine Western Ghats

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday granted an interim stay on the controversial “Greenfield Highway” project linking Shishila (Dakshina Kannada) with Byrapura (Chikkamagaluru) cutting through the pristine Western Ghats and issued notices to various stakeholders.

Seeking an alternative alignment for the construction of the highway and restraining the parties from carrying out any construction or survey activity as part of the project, Vinay Madhav, a resident of Makonahalli village in Mudigere taluk of Chikkamagaluru filed a PIL before the HC. Hearing the petition, a divisional bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur ordered notices to the respondents including the Centre, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, MoEF, the state government, forest department and NHAI besides issuing an interim stay on the work.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, advocate C K Nandakumar submitted that the proposed highway linking Chitradurga and Mangaluru (NH-173) passing through the evergreen forest stretch between Byrapura and Shishila requires diversion of 60.13 hectares of evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of the Western Ghats. “The proposed NH would result in the fragmentation of a large scale forested area in more than six reserved forests in two districts besides passing close to the tiger reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in three districts of Dakshina Kannada, Chikkamagaluru and Chitradurga,” the petitioner submitted.

The petitioner said the forest through which the proposed highway passes forms the catchment area for Nethravathi river — the lifeline of Mangaluru and water source for Yettinahole project.

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