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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Karnataka HC directs national wildlife board to assess impact of Hubballi-Ankola railway project

Out of the 995.64 hectares of land required for the project, 595.64 hectares will be forest land, as per official reports.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: December 2, 2021 1:07:42 pm
The bench heard the public interest litigations that contested clearance for the 168-km new broad-gauge railway line in the 14th meeting of the State Board for Wildlife in March 2020. (Representational)

Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the National Board for Wildlife Wildlife (NBWL) to assess the impact on wildlife due to the proposed broad-gauge railway line project between Hubballi and Ankola, for which 594.64 hectares of forest land is set to be diverted.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum, passed directions to the NBWL while hearing a batch of petitions challenging the wildlife clearance for the project. The bench heard the public interest litigations (PILs) that contested clearance for the 168-km new broad-gauge railway line in the 14th meeting of the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) in March 2020.

The court directed the NBWL to go through the various reports submitted on the project and make an independent assessment of the impact of the project on the wildlife. The NBWL may involve experts in making the assessment, the bench said.

The petitioners have also stated that an estimated 2.2 lakh trees would have to be cut for the project.

“We understand that development work is to be carried out. However, we have to assess the impact on wildlife and the endeavour should be to protect it. To find out the impact of this development project on wildlife, we direct the National Board for Wildlife to carry out a survey over the area involved in the project and make an assessment of the effect of laying Hubballi-Ankola railway line in the forest area involved, over wildlife,” the bench said.

The petitioners have argued that the project falls within the Jali Tiger Reserve, an eco-sensitive zone in the Western Ghats.

According to official reports, more than 80 per cent of the Hubballi-Ankola railway project passes through dense forest. Out of the 995.64 hectares of land required for the project, 595.64 hectares will be forest land.

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