Projects in Goa and Karnataka approved by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is accused of approving the projects in April last year in “unseemly haste”, allegedly without consulting the village locals or observing due process will cut through Mollem National Park, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, and the adjoining Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, include the expansion of a national highway from the capital Panjim to Belgaum in neighbouring Karnataka, the doubling of a railway track that will run through Goa’s Mollem forest and Karnataka’s Kali tiger reserve, and building a power transmission line through the forest.
Environmentalists have repeatedly warned of an unfolding catastrophe facing the fragile forest and its unique biodiversity if the projects are implemented. The projects also threaten to destroy livelihoods and heritage homes – some of which were built nearly 200 years ago and are a testimony to the culture and colonial history of Goa.
The “Magical Mollem”, also called Goa’s green heart, encompasses 240sq km (149sq miles) of India’s Western Ghats. It is a 150 million-year-old reserve with thousands of wildlife species. From pangolins and wild frogs to 120 species of butterflies and mammals, some ecologists say its biodiversity is as important as Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
The residents of Goa say the BJP is abetting the use of fossil fuels by pandering to the corporations – actions that go against the UN’s climate report which emphasises that production of coal, oil and gas must fall by 6 percent a year until 2030 to avoid a “severe climate disruption”.