Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday December 1 has directed the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) to conduct a full assessment of the proposed broad-gauge railway line between Hubballi and Ankola’s impact on wildlife.
According to sources, a division bench comprising of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed this order while hearing a batch of PILs challenging the project’s wildlife clearance.
According to petitioners, the project will require the diversion of 595.64 hectares of forest area and the felling of an estimated 2.2 lakh trees.
The court issued an interim order on June 18, 2021, preventing the diversion of forest land in Karwar, Yellapur, and Dharwad for the railway line’s construction. “We understand that development work must be completed. However, we must examine the impact on wildlife, and every effort should be made to protect wildlife. We direct the National Board for Wildlife to conduct a survey over the project area and make an assessment of the effect of laying down the Hubballi-Ankola broad-gauge rail line in the forest area involved over wildlife to determine the impact of this development project on wildlife,” the bench said.
According to the petitioners, the project region is situated within the Kali tiger reserve or Anshi-Dandeli tiger reserve, an eco-sensitive zone in the Western Ghats. They also said that the State Board had decided to reject the plan at its 13th meeting. The project was approved and submitted to the National Board at the next meeting, which was held 11 days later on March 20, 2020.
However, the project was supported by the Railway Seva Samithi, Uttara Kannada, an intervener in the PILs.