A day before a public consultation meeting on the Hubballi-Ankola railway is set to be held, a basic science researcher based out of Uttara Kannada district, Ravi Hegde, has submitted a list of objections against the railway project to the office of the deputy commissioner of the district.
The Union environment ministry on June 3 this year had set up a seven-member committee to examine the project. The team is on a visit to the district. The project requires the conversion of 594.64 hectare of forest land.
“The rain forests of Arabail ghat region, where the rail track is proposed, harbour unique endangered (in risk of extinction) and endemic (only seen in that locality) flora and fauna, the life and activity of which is exclusively dependent on the distinct topography (landscape) of the locality. The survival of biodiversity essentially requires an integrated forest ecosystem without any anthropogenic disturbance. It is proven without any doubts that if the topographic integrity of the hilly regions of the Western Ghats is disturbed, it will pave the way for massive landslides, loss of trees, destruction of sensitive habitats of the fauna, and ultimately loss of native biodiversity,” he said in the list of objections.
“In such an ecologically sensitive area with high degree of endemism of species of fauna and flora, introducing a railway track itself will cause irreversible damage and permanent habitat loss. The Arabail ghat region is a hilly terrain with distinct topography and the construction of railway tracks in such a locality essentially involves blasts, drillings, tunnelling, and other procedures leading to landscape changes. Massive procedures of railway track construction itself will cause tremendous disturbance in the tropical rainforests in terms of air, water, soil and sound pollution as well as landscape changes which will eventually cause habitat loss and make sensitive fauna to permanently leave the place,” he added.
The objections further stated, “The sensitive endemic and endangered fauna and flora of tropical rainforests of this area can never bear the impact of tremors and vibrations of railway track construction procedures. Even if the proposed project is implemented, during the operational stage of the project (daily railway traffic), the resultant sound, air and soil pollution as well as continuous vibrations will cause severe damage to the peaceful living of tropical rainforest fauna. It is most essential to note that humans (or activities of anthropogenic origin) and wildlife can never coexist.”
Hegde said that the proposed Hubballi-Ankola railway track project is not mandatory for human survival but the tropical rainforest habitat is essential for the survival of the rarest of the rare population of endemic and endangered flora and fauna of the Western Ghats.