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Current Affairs

Hubballi-Ankola railway link project

Date: 16 March 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The controversial Hubballi-Ankola railway line project, which came up for discussion at the Karnataka State Board for Wildlife meeting, saw stiff opposition from a majority of the board members.

 

Background

In the year 1997-1998 the Ministry of Railways sanctioned the construction of the 168.289 KM broad gauge railway line from Hubli (Dharwad District) to Ankola (Uttara Kannada District) of Karnataka, to provide a direct rail link to the coast.

 

Details

  • The proposed rail project entails large-scale destruction of forests, including the felling of nearly 2.2 lakh fully grown trees in a biodiversity hotspot.

  • There was political pressure from elected representatives of the region to get environmental clearance and permission from the wildlife board on the grounds that the project was a demand of the people of north Karnataka.

  • Officials supportive of the project argued that the railway line did not cut through a protected area and was outside it, and hence the permission of the board was not required.

  • The project was rejected by the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had opposed it, and even the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had rejected it twice on the grounds that the damage rendered by such a linear project through pristine forests could not be mitigated and the adverse affect on flora and fauna would be irreversible.

  • The 164.44-km railway line passes through pristine forests between two major protected areas, Kali Tiger Reserve and Bedthi Conservation Reserve.

  • A 75-km stretch between Hubballi and Yellapur comprises plain land, while a 56-km stretch between Yellapur and Sunksal is a ghat section where the track alignment cuts through the Western Ghats.