Karnataka rejects Kerala proposal on rail line over green concerns

Published on Sep 18, 2022 11:44 PM IST

The Karnataka government on Sunday turned down Kerala government’s proposals for projects such as two railway lines and increase in number of night bus services between the two states, citing environmental concerns

The Karnataka government on Sunday turned down Kerala government’s proposals for projects such as two railway lines. (ANI)
The Karnataka government on Sunday turned down Kerala government’s proposals for projects such as two railway lines. (ANI)
By, Bengaluru

The Karnataka government on Sunday turned down Kerala government’s proposals for projects such as two railway lines and increase in number of night bus services between the two states, citing environmental concerns.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan called on his Karnataka counterpart Basavaraj Bommai in Bengaluru on Sunday and discussed multiple projects such as Kanhangad-Kaniyoor railway line via Panathur, Thalasseri-Mysuru railway line, underground tunnel passing through Bandipura National Park and proposal to increase night bus services between the two southern states. However, the talks failed to yield results.

“The Kerala government sought co-operation for its various railway projects including Kanhangad-Kaniyur Rail Line route, and other highway projects. The proposed Kanhangad-Kaniyur rail line project has a 40 km route in Kerala and 31 km in Karnataka,” Bommai told reporters after the meeting. “However, this project is not very beneficial for Karnataka. Besides, it will pass through the rich bio-diversity and ecologically sensitive areas of the Western Ghats. So, the Kerala CM was clearly told that it was not possible for the state of Karnataka to give extended co-operation for this project.”

Though the Indian Railways had committed that it will review the project if both the states agree to it, Bommai said, adding, “We rejected it because there is no benefit to Karnataka from this railway line.”

Another project that was discussed and subsequently rejected by Bommai was a railway line between Thalaseri in Kerala’s Kannur district and Mysuru in Karnataka.

The Karnataka government has rejected this old proposal as the proposed rail route passes through eco-sensitive zones like Bandipur and Nagarhole national parks, besides tiger and elephant zones, Bommai said, adding it “would adversely affect the fragile ecosystem”.

“The Kerala CM proposed the construction of an underground rail route and even it was rejected flatly as it would damage the environment during the construction activities,” the Karnataka CM said.

The proposed railway lines and increasing night-buses between the bordering states have been pending for many years with Karnataka firmly against the projects across eco-sensitive zones.

“The Kerala CM was informed that presently, two buses are operated during night via Bandipur National Highway, but he sought permission to allow four buses and that proposal was also rejected,” Bommai said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka has opposed the new draft rules that restrict developmental works in the fragile zones of Western Ghats.

Traversing through six states, the Western Ghats is one among 36 global biodiversity hotspots that spreads from Gujarat to Kerala, covering around 160,000 square km and constitutes 5% of India’s geographical extent.

Evergreen forest cover in India has reduced from 16% in 1985 to 11% in 2018. During the same period, moist deciduous forests in Karnataka have come down from 5.71% to 4.12%, dry deciduous forests from 3.97% to 2.23%, according to the ‘Valuation of Ecosystem Services, Karnataka State, India’ report. However, plantations have gone up from 8.7% or 16,789.65 sqkm in 1,985 to 11.1% or 21,325.23 sqkm, according to the report.

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