The expert group from SC has also recommended changes in the highway project and power transmission line in Goa.
Hoping to preserve Goa's rich biodiversity and natural heritage, a Supreme Court panel has recommended stopping the execution of the rail expansion project in the state. While the central government had given its approval for this scheme, the Central Empowerment Committee of the Supreme Court has red-flagged the project, attributing environmental concerns behind its decision. Besides this, the authorities have also suggested alterations in the highway project and power transmission line in Goa.
Move to protect Mollem National Park & the wildlife sanctuary
Reportedly, the proposed intervention would interfere with the ecosystem of Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary (BMWS) and the Mollem National Park (MNP) in South Goa. Citing the biological and ecological importance of these hotspots, the committee formed by the Supreme Court has asked advised against the expansion of railway lines in sensitive areas. It stated that the Western Ghats are known nationally and internationally as regions of high environmental significance.
Additionally, the reports state that the CEC has recommended altering the 400KV line transmission line project as per the 220KV standards, in order to protect and preserve the forest cover and fauna in the region. In the four-lane highway project, starting from Anmod near the Karnataka border to Goa's Mollem, the group has asked to elevate the roads in order to diminish the possibilities of dangerous man-animal interactions.
Environmental externalities outweigh the expected benefits
In the past, several environmentalists had raised repeated alarms over the environmental spillovers of these projects in Goa. Later, Goa Foundation filed an application and sent it to the country's highest judicial authority for reviewing the implementation of the schemes. In a cost-benefit analysis detailed in the CEC report, the environmental externalities outweigh the expected benefits from these plans.
Goa's coal import policy was also tweaked earlier but the changes are not reflected on ground, as yet. If the initial plans are implemented, it shall further lead to destructive effects on Goa's sensitive habitats of flora and fauna.