A seven-member central committee constituted by National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) organised a stakeholders consultation meeting on Hubballi-Ankola railway line project in Hubballi on Thursday to hear and record submissions by various stakeholders, including individuals and organisations.
The central team, led by Deputy Inspector-General of Forests (DIGF), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Rakesh Kumar Jagenia, comprised Rajendra Kumar, T.N. Manohar, Sukumar, H.S. Singh, G.V. Gopi and Nagesh Iyer.
The team reached Dharwad district after a two-day visit to Uttara Kannada.
Participating in the stakeholders consultation meeting, Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi strongly batted for the Hubballi-Ankola railway line project and said that it will pave way for the development of the region.
He said that the railway project will help import, export business from the ports in Goa, Karwar and Mangaluru. The railway line will also bring down the transportation cost and help the country’s biggest naval base, Seabird, he said.
Mr. Joshi pointed out that the logistics cost in the country is high compared to other nations. Emphasising that conservation of forest wealth, wildlife is important, he pointed out that Western Ghat’s sensitive zone is outside the ambit of the railway project.
He said that in a country with the second highest population in the world, several development works are necessary to promote industrial development and generate employment and emphasised the need for the railway project.
Deputy Commissioner Gurudatta Hegde said that 20 memoranda have been received by the district administration and this has been forwarded to the central committee for perusal.
Appearing before the central committee, Past Chairman of CII Hubballi-Dharwad and Treasurer of Hubballi Dharwad Development Forum V.S.V. Prasad said that the pollution level and its effect on environment will be minimal as goods movement by train was cheaper and considering the use of electric locomotives now, there is no requirement for diesel either.
Mr. Prasad, who is also president of Nature Club, said in his submission that 4,000 tonnes of freight can be carried on one rake without any diesel whereas the same quantity, if moved by road, required 200 trucks with an average consumption of 35,000 litres of diesel. “Once the project is completed, 40 rakes can be moved on this line per day saving 14 lakh litres of diesel per day,” he said.
Apart from industrial development, tourism in the coastal region will be greatly benefited by the project. Any further delay in the project will only escalate the cost, he said.
Bharat of Exel Food Pvt. Ltd. said that the railway route will benefit export of farm produce to Europe and the United States.
Vasant Ladwa of Karnatak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said that the railway project will help growth of trade and commerce in the region apart from promotion of tourism.
Anilkumar Jain, Suresh Navalgund, Anand Pujari, Shrawani Pawar, Rai Naik, Sudhakar Shetty, Jagadish Hiremath, Vijay Sehgal and office-bearers of Hubballi Bar Association others made their submissions.
Managing Director of Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Ltd. (K-RIDE) Gaurav Gupta, General Manager of South Western Railway Sanjeev Kishore and other officials were present.