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Opinion

Advice from the Wildlife Board to the railroad tracks through the protected Western Ghats

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The National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) has given its go-ahead to the Tinaighat-Castlerock-Caranzol railway duplication project. The project is likely to involve the diversion of 10.45 ha of forest land, of which 9.57 ha is in the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.

“I am pleased to report that at its 60th meeting, NBWL recommended the proposal to duplicate the Tinaighat-Castlerock-Caranzol railway from the Southwest Karnataka Railways with certain mitigation measures as recommended by the Indian Wildlife Institute,” he tweeted the Union’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday. The minutes of the meeting have not yet been published.

According to a note from Southwestern Railways, the single existing railway line between Hospet and Vasco was installed in 1900 and connects the industrial areas in Hospet and the port of Marmugoa and various tourist spots in Goa and Karnataka. Due to industrial growth and increased tourists, the single line is saturated.

According to a forest department site inspection report published on the Parivesh website of the Ministry of the Environment, the area covering both the Kali Tiger Reserve and the Anshi Wildlife Division is home to tigers, leopards, gaur , sambar, etc. and is endemic to Castlerock Night Frog. There are already Alnavar-Londa Vasco and Londa Khanapur railway lines in the region where many wildlife victims have been reported due to train accidents. The proposal will involve the loss of 5,413 trees in the Kali Tiger Reserve alone. The doubling of the rail line is proposed primarily for the transportation of coal according to the report.

“The project was vehemently rejected by wildlife scientists in Karnataka and also by some members of the Karnataka Wildlife Board. The railway line will pass through a very eco-sensitive region. It also works in parallel with the NH4A that is expanding. The two projects together will be a coup de grace for wildlife and biodiversity here, ”said a senior wildlife scientist from Karnataka on condition of anonymity.

“The Castlerock area was included in the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary in 2011 due to its ecological importance, as it is home to tigers, dholes and several other endangered species of wildlife. Connect Dandeli with Bhimghad Wildlife Sanctuary. Alongside Castlerock are the protected areas in Goa, making it one of the largest contiguous wildlife habitats in the central Western Ghats. It also acts as a watershed for several of our streams, rivers, and dams, ”said Sanjay Gubbi, a conservation biologist.

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