Karnataka Govt for shelving rly project

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Hubli, Mar 15 (UNI) The Karnataka Forest, Ecology and Environment Department has recommended dropping the ongoing Hubli-Ankola Broad Gauge Project, even as people representatives and residents of North Karnataka Region are fighting for early completion.

A letter to this effect was written to the concerned by the Principal Secretary of Forest, Ecology and Environment Abhijit Dasgupta a copy of which was released to the press here today by Lok Sabha Member Prahalad Joshi.

In the letter, Mr Dasgupta said the proposed railway alignment crossed the traditional elephant migratory path of Kirwatti Range of Yelapur Division and would badly fragment the elephant corridor.

He said ''the area of alignment passes through the habitat of many rare and endangered flora and fauna and the catchment of Rivers Kali, Bedthi and Gangavalli.

''The area lies in the evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of the Western Ghats with a canopy density of 0.8+. The area receives very heavy rainfall of upto 300 mm and felling of trees would result in severe erosion and silting of the river ecosystem,'' he added.

Mr Dasgupta recommended the proposal be dropped as it served no useful purpose except to benefit the iron and manganese ore miners, traders and exporters.

No passenger traffic was envisaged on the proposed alignment, the issue of global warming and climate change also needed to be borne in mind before felling massive number of tees in the heart of the Western Ghats.

''The proposal to lay the line may be dropped once for all,'' he added.

Expressing his shock, Mr Joshi said he would convene a meeting of people's representatives of Dharwad and Uttar Kannada Districts after the ongoing Parliament session to chalk out future course of agitation to create awareness among the people on the completion of the project.

The Central Empowered Committee has already issued instructions to the Ministry of Railways on September 15, 2007 to stop the works of the Railway line in the non-forest areas.

It has also advised the Ministry of Environment and Forests not to issue any permission in the case till the matter is examined in totality and a report was filed by the Committee before the Supreme Court.

UNI MNP MSP LS GC1654

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