Environmentalists oppose highway widening project

 thehindu.com  09/16/2020 14:10:26 

Environmentalists have opposed the National Highway Authority of Indias plans to widen the National Highway 4A from Belagavi to Panjim in Goa saying that it would do irreparable damage to environment.

In a letter to the Central Empowered Committee that is tasked with clearing such environmentally-sensitive projects, environmentalists and wildlife conservationists have pointed out that deforestation would have a devastating effect on the ecology of the Western Ghats and affect the tiger habitat areas in Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.

Secondly, there was no need for widening the highway as the Union government is already planning doubling the railway track in the same region, they argue.

As much as 85 km of the highway passes through Karnataka and around 70 in Goa. It is being developed into a four-lane highway with toll gates at some points. It passes through the Kali Tiger Reserve, Dandeli Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park. The existing road is a two-way highway. Already, traffic on this road causes a large number of wildlife deaths and widening would increase road kill, activists say.

The user agencies, National Highway Authority of India and the Public Works Department in Goa, have sought for clearance of forest on over 90 hectares of pristine land.

Activists say that this would cause unforeseeable damage.

Western Ghats has a complex eco system. The least we can do is to protect and preserve it, says Giridhar Kulkarni, a signatory to the letter.

Actually, there is no need for road widening at all. The government is already going ahead with doubling the railway track between Karnataka and Goa that passes through nearly the same route. Over 135 hectares of forest is being cleared for that project, he says.

The project has seen opposition earlier also. In June this year, 150 environmentalists, scientists and activists wrote to the Union government and the Central Empowered Committee asking them to drop the project. We only hope the government understands the dangers involved in the project and drops it, he said.

*Our Digital Subscription plans do not currently include the e-paper ,crossword, iPhone, iPad mobile applications and print. Our plans enhance your reading experience.

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism

Dear subscriber,

Thank you!

Your support for our journalism is invaluable. Its a support for truth and fairness in journalism. It has helped us keep apace with events and happenings.

The Hindu has always stood for journalism that is in the public interest. At this difficult time, it becomes even more important that we have access to information that has a bearing on our health and well-being, our lives, and livelihoods. As a subscriber, you are not only a beneficiary of our work but also its enabler.

We also reiterate here the promise that our team of reporters, copy editors, fact-checkers, designers, and photographers will deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Suresh Nambath

« Go back