INDIA GREENS PARTY
IGP opposes doubling of railway line in Western Ghats, stands with Goa coal protestors
Mumbai, 30 November 2020: The India Greens Party (IGP) has opposed the Indian Railways’ track doubling project cutting through Goa’s pristine Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park as it comes at a huge environmental cost.
In 2010, the Ministry of Railways sanctioned the doubling of the existing Hospet-Tinaighat-Vasco railway line in the states of Karnataka and Goa. The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, a government company, is implementing the project. The first phase of the project, Hospet-Tinaighat, has been completed already, and the second phase of it, Tinaighat-Vasco, is being implemented. Hospet-Tinaighat-Vasco railway line is 342-km-long of which 245-km in Karnataka and 7-km in Goa is already completed. Approximately, 63-km long track in Goa remains to be doubled.
The activists claim that the environment impact assessment (EIA) has not been done yet and the project is illegally going ahead with the construction.
The protestors argue that the line is especially being doubled to transport coal. Government argues that it is not just for coal and they are not increasing coal imports. Also, the government argues that if they don’t do the second phase, then the first phase will be a waste of public money. So they have to do it to save money, facilitate more industries and create more jobs. However, the locals complain that the existing railway line already carries coal and fills their villages with dust; hence, they are opposing the doubling of the line.
According to a press statement issued here by the IGP Spokesperson (West) Mansee Bal Bhargava, the IGP President Suresh Nautiyal said it is a foolish idea to fell down more than 56,500 trees for the sake of a railway project that will majorly facilitate cheap transport for the coal.
“This is a major concern for the locals and environmentalists. The Western Ghats has already lost 35 percent of its forests over nine decades. This project will cause huge damage,” the IGP leader pointed out.
Mr Nautiyal said it is an irresponsible act on part of the Railways and the central government because they are pushing this track doubling project despite the fact that the Western Ghats is an ecologically sensitive area.
“The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) had designated the area as ecologically sensitive in 2011. The WGEEP report clearly stated that no new railway lines and major roads, except where it is highly essential, should be constructed in the area,” the IGP leader added.
He said the past experience has shown that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was done to practically pave a cakewalk for such destructive projects.
The IGP President said the party firmly stands with the Goa coal protestors and extends its support to all other organisations and parties involved in the fight against the non eco-friendly project being pushed in Goa.
“India ratified the Paris Agreement and confirmed to strive to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The young generation is looking at us. What we do today will impact the wellbeing of our future generations,” reminded Mr Nautiyal deep concern.
The IGP leader said a responsible government cannot put ecology at risk in the name of development.
“In view of all this, the India Greens Party calls upon the government to respect the wishes and feelings of the people and also come up to their expectations by addressing the issue in an ecological manner,” the IGP President advised.
In the meanwhile, the IGP has extended its support to those Goan protesters who are demanding that the State Bank of India (SBI) drop the proposal to finance the coal mine project of Adani group in Australia. The IGP President said the protesters in Goa are very much sensible in saying that funding a coal project is akin to supporting the destruction of our planet and the extinction of our own species.
– Issued by IGP Spokesperson (West) Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava
(The IGP is registered with the Election Commission of India under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Registration Number: 56/476/2018-19/PPS-I, effective from 18/07/2019.)
Party HQ: 104, Vardhman Complex, 1st Floor, LSC, Savita Vihar, Delhi-110092.