*update* : March 2 2021
The Center has approved the clearance of 140 hectares of forests surrounding Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa for the double-tracking of the southwestern railway project. The second railway track is to be used to transport coal from the Mormugao Port Trust to Karnataka.
Environmentalists and locals had been protesting for months against the three linear projects that would destroy the biodiversity hotspot. The move completely disregards the agency citizens would like upheld in a democracy, for issues that concern not just their lives but the ecosystems sustained by their surrounding environment.
*Update*: October 7 2020 .
Amidst growing protests for the campaign, Goa Government has decided to go ahead with the projects claiming that they are essential for "development" of the state, and that laying of the inter-state power transmission lines would meet future electricity requirement of Goa.
On the thousands of emails sent to the Environment Ministry, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, ""Nothing in writing has come to me so far. I will consider it when anything comes to me",
This campaign is now in the second stage. Appeals will be made to the Centrally Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court to run a thorough enquiry into this matter. Please find the letter to Mr Amarnatha Shetty, Member secretary at CEC with the citizens' demands and requests here https://bit.ly/3j7vNwO
The Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa are spread across 240 sq km of protected area in the Western Ghats. Together, they are home to pristine vegetation classified as West Coast tropical evergreen forests, West Coast semi-evergreen forests and moist deciduous forests and was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1969.
But now, Goa is set to lose 55,000 trees and 185 hectares of forest cover -- three major projects have got the green light in June from MOEF for the widening of the existing National Highway 4A, railway line double-tracking and construction of a new power line.
149 people comprising scientists, academicians, conservationists, artists, allied professionals as well as concerned citizens wrote to Prakash Javadekar, Environment Minister expressing their displeasure on this decision. This letter is further backed by 400 medical students, 150 tourism stakeholders, and the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa. The land in contention is home to more than 721 plant species, 235 bird species, 219 butterfly species, 80 odonate species, 70 mammal species, 75 ant species, 45 reptile species, 44 fish species, 43 fungi species, 27 amphibian species, 24 orchid species, and 18 species of lichens. More so this is an important tiger corridor between Goa and the adjoining Kali Tiger Reserve in Karnataka. The letter also mentions that water scarcity will increase by several folds across Goa if these projects see the day of light.
Two of these projects were cleared during the COVID-19 lockdown in April through a video call by the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife. While there are EIA reports for all three, the transmission project report isn't available for the public to view.
Let us stand in solidarity with the concerned citizens of Goa by asking the Member Secretary of CEC to cancel the clearance of all these projects that will result in the destruction of 185 hectares of forest cover in Goa.
Join this campaign to remind the environment ministry that all development projects must be sustainable and not at the cost of destroying and disrupting so many lives.