During covid-19 pandemic, clearances were granted through a virtual platform in Goa. A group including environmentalists, students and professionals are raising issues regarding clearances granted to two projects Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in the district.
Related to the issue, A letter is being issued to Prakash Javadekar, Union Environment Minister, the group has targeted the four lanes of the highway and laying of the line in and lineout transmission line which will lead to dangerous impact on the wildlife in Goa district.
On April 7, the two projects namely a four-lane highway and laying a 400 kv transmission line pass the Goa’s forest got clearances by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) under MoEFCC alongside nine other projects in various states.
In the letter, Girish Punjabi, a wildlife biologist stated how these two projects can be cleared by the NBWL in the habitat of tigers by using poor biodiversity assessment for NH4A project. Also no assessment of environmental impact. This fact was very disturbing. He said that no fact-checking was done. There was no point of properly done EIAs as NBWL and MoEFCC doesn’t care about the biodiversity in the region they just blindly trust the project advocates.
In the letter issued to the union ministry, the group also pointed out the third project which is double tracking of the railway line which passes through the sanctuary and national park which is being considered by the government. The letter stated that these three projects will lead to the worst consequences for wildlife and tiger habitat in the region.
During this period, youth in the state started an online petition regarding opposing these projects .12,747 people were in support of the petition. Petition included that if ‘ green goa’ will be lost along with the wildlife. Along with the wildlife, the people staying in the state will also be affected. So there is a need to protect the lives of species by getting united and raising voices to save the green goal. Akshay Shet, part of the online petition said that the village people who live on the banks of rivers will lose their livelihood as they earn through the ancestral farming method.
According to the reports, these three projects require 216 hectares of forest and private land with 50000 cutting down of trees.These projects have created a feeling of fear in people of Goa as these projects will lead to a lot of destruction of wildlife, said Christopher Fonseca, state general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).
Further the letter addressed to MoEFCC also mentioned that, “Direct loss of biodiversity and the far-reaching impacts of habitat fragmentation will reduce ecosystem stability and decrease forest resilience, it will also create a requirement to deal with the climate change.These three projects can only be evaluated through a rigorous cumulative impact assessment study of all three linear projects within one protected area and cannot be looked at in isolation by the MoEFCC and NBWL.”