Dandeli wildlife in danger as SWR proposes construction of double line

DANDELI:Once again developmental work will result in cutting down of many trees and risk the  wildlife. This has irked wildlife activists and environmentalists.

It’s the South Western Railway which recently submitted a proposal for diversion of 1.17 hectares of forest land within Dandeli wildlife sanctuary limits from Tinaighat to Castlerock, for construction of new double line. And for the same, about 532 trees are to be felled.

Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), which is a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Railways, has been entrusted with the doubling of railway line Hospet-Tinaighat-Castlerock-Kullem-Vasco section.

The length of railway line project is 352 kms in Karnataka and Goa. The project is being funded by Asian Development Bank and is monitored by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The doubling work from Hospet-Tinaighat is already in progress in the existing line.

Now in the next phase, South Western Railway has submitted a proposal for diversion of 2.22 hectares of forest land, 1.05 hectares in Haliyal Division and 1.17 hectares in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, which is under the administrative control of Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve.

Based on the proposal, Chief Conservator of Forests of Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve and Canara Circle, have recommended the proposal for diversion of 1.17 hectares of forest land.

Since the area falls in wildlife sanctuary, the user agency needs to get approval from State Wildlife Board, National Board for Wildlife, NTCA and more importantly Supreme Court.

The proposed line passes through the heart of Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttara Kannada District, which is an important tiger habitat and the area is also a part of Dandeli Elephant Reserve.

The region is home to many endemic and endangered species. Due to the same, several environmentalists and wildlife activists are opposing the project.

If the proposal is approved, it will fragment wildlife habitat and escalate man-animal conflict, said Giridhar Kulkarni, noted wildlife activist.

He said that Uttara Kannada district, which has the largest forest cover in the state, is already fragmented by hydel projects, dams, nuclear power stations, highways, railway lines, encroachments and more and Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is not exceptional from this.

Dandeli Anshi Tiger Reserve has at least 14 main roads which have resulted in in the death of many wild animals, he said.

Presently, there are two proposals in front of the state government for diversion of forest land from Kumbarwada and Anshi ranges for construction of bridge within the core area of the tiger reserve.

More importantly, the Hospet-Tinaighat-Castlerock-Kullem-Vasco railway line passes through Dharwad, Belagavi, Haliyal territorial divisions along with Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary.

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