Panaji, April 26 (IANS) The Supreme Court's Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which had been appointed to examine three inter-state projects along the Goa-Karnataka border, has recommended a host of alterations to the ongoing road, rail and power projects, while also singling out South Western Railway's track doubling project from Castle Rock in Karnataka to Tinaighat in Goa, saying there is no justification for the expansion.
The report of the committee, which has been submitted to the apex court, has also called for re-alignment of the Goa Tanmar Transmission Project Ltd. and widening of animal corridors along the NH-4 which is the process of being four-laned.
"The CEC does not find any justification for undertaking a project of this nature which will destroy the fragile eco-system of the Western Ghats which is an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot and also one of the most important wildlife corridors of the country," the report said in its observations related to the rail track doubling project.
"Even otherwise, keeping in view the operationalisation of Konkan Railway, the proposed four-laning of NH-4 and augmentation of air connectivity to Goa by having a new airport, doubling the section of the most inefficient rail line between Castle Rock and Tinaighat cannot be justified from operational or economic or ecological angle," the report added.
The CEC has also recommended realignment of the Goa Tamnar Transmission Project, which envisages drawing of a 400 KV power line from Karnataka to Goa, parallel to the existing power transmission corridor in order to save forest cover, describing the re-alignment as the "best alternative".
"The existing 220 Kv line with 400 Kv line is an existing line and is passing through the already cleared forest cover in the national park and wildlife sanctuaries to avoid fresh clearing of forest canopy for drawing the proposed 400 Kv line," the report stated.
With regards to the four-laning of the NH-4, the CEC has recommended expansion of animal corridors along the highway to facilitate movement of wild animals, which otherwise face the risk of being killed in road mishap, while also suggesting building elevated road tracks in places where animal crossings are frequent.
Thousands of trees in the Western Ghats region of Goa are slotted for felling to facilitate three projects, including the rail track expansion, spread across the protected forests in and around Mollem village located in the Western Ghats region.
The Western Ghats has been recognised by the UNESCO as a global biodiversity hotspot.
The opposition as well as the civil society groups and tourism stakeholders bodies in Goa have expressed their apprehension that the road and rail projects are being pushed at an "express pace" to facilitate the movement of coal imported through the Mormugao Port Trust facility in Goa to steel mills in Karnataka's Bellary district and nearby areas.