Hubballi-Ankola railway project: HC asks NBWL to assess impact on wildlife

The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday directed the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) to conduct a survey and assess the impact on wildlife due to the proposed diversion of 595.64 hectares of forest area for the broad-gauge railway line project.

The court also directed the NBWL to go through various reports submitted on the proposed project and other documents, and make an independent assessment of the impact of the project on wildlife.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum issued the directions to the NBWL following rival contention among the petitioners, the State and Central governments, and the organisations in favour of the project about the correctness of recommendation made by the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) for diversion of forest land for the project.

The Bench also clarified that the NBWL could involve experts, if necessary, in its task of carrying out survey and assessment.

The Bench was hearing various PIL petitions questioning the legality of the decision taken in the 14th meeting of the SBWL, headed by then Chief Minister, held in March within 11 days of the 13th meeting in which it was unanimously decided to reject the project proposal.

The court, in its interim order on June 18, 2020, had directed that no further steps should be taken based on the recommendation of the SBWL for diversion of forest area.

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