The Western Ghats are among the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The controversial Hubballi-Ankola Railway Line Project (HARP) will destroy some of the last remaining primary forests of the Western Ghats in Uttara Kannada and result in massive, irreversible ecological destruction. This region has already lost 3300 sq km of pristine forests, and stands to lose more if HARP becomes a reality. No amount of mitigation will compensate for the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Although rejected many times in the past by various statutory authorities, the Karnataka government cleared this disastrous project in March 2020 through its State Board for Wildlife (SBWL), despite opposition from several of its members. Now, approval is pending before the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). Please join our petition requesting the NBWL to reject the project permanently.


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Background

The ancient forests of the Western Ghats are truly unique. Home to hundreds of globally threatened species, these forests feature exceptionally high levels of biological diversity. Many plants and animals found here are found nowhere else on earth. The Western Ghats also provide ecosystem services critical to human well-being, including temperature and rainfall regulation, pollination, soil stabilization and clean air. Most critically, dozens of rivers that meet the needs of tens of millions of people originate here. The Western Ghats have already lost 35-40% of forest cover over the last century to mines, dams, roads, railway lines, and power projects. Any further forest loss will reduce the few remaining large forest patches to small degraded ones, decimating populations of globally unique flora and fauna, and disrupting crucial ecosystem services. This will harm forest and river health, and affect the livelihood and well-being of millions of people.

A Disaster in the Making

Approximately 70% (120km) of the proposed railway line will cut across the Western Ghats (WG), passing through Bedthi Conservation Reserve, close to Dandeli Hornbill Conservation Reserve and the buffer zone of Kali Tiger Reserve, resulting in the felling of about 2 lakh trees. In the past, this detrimental project was rejected numerous times by statutory government agencies, such as the Forest Advisory Committee, Ministry of Environment and Forests, National Tiger Conservation Authority, Chief Conservator of Forests and the Central Empowered Committee to the Supreme Court. But the project was put forth yet again during the meeting of the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) on March 20th 2020, and approved despite strict opposition from several Board Members. The Karnataka High Court, in response to a petition filed by a Bengaluru based conservation NGO, provided interim relief by imposing a stay on the decision taken at the SBWL meeting. The next court hearing is scheduled for the 14th of July, 2020.

Act now!

We invite you, as a concerned citizen, to support us in appealing to the appropriate authorities and statutory bodies to permanently reject the Hubballi Ankola Railway Project. You can find the public appeal here in Kannada and English. Add your name to our appeal now! A detailed report on the ecological impacts of HARP, which has been sent to the appropriate authorities and statutory bodies, can be viewed here in Kannada and English.

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