The people of Uttara Kannada district are upset at the new hurdle hitting the Ankola-Hubballi railway line. The central empowered committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court to study the environmental impact of the line, has objected to the project.
In its recent report, the committee said the impact of the project on the sensitive ecology of Western Ghats will cause huge burden on the exchequer.
“All is not lost. Our political parties and elected representatives should fight for the cause of the project. All data about environmental assessment in the area and commercial importance of the Hubballi-Ankola line should be presented before the apex court,“ said Rajeev Gaonkar, president of Railway Action Committee of Uttara Kannada.
The CEC had said the Rs 2,315-crore project’s ecological impact would far outweigh its benefits. However, Jagadeesh Birkodikar, president of Konkan Railway Users Action Committee, said the CEC’s decision is not final. There was surprise in some quarters that CEC’s opposition to the railway line was weighed in more by financial considerations rather than by issues raised by the environmentalists.
“We must try to convince the court about the strategic and commercial importance of the project,“ said Birkodikar. The foundation stone for the line was laid by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999. Later some environmental groups approached the SC alleging that the project would affect ecology in the Western Ghats and obstruct the elephant corridor. The apex court stayed the project.
Local organizations said despite the assurances of railways minister Suresh Prabhu and law minister DV Sadananda Gowda that the project would continue, the CEC’s move has upset all calculations.
However, the green brigade has lauded the report.