Hubbali-Ankola rail project will affect a whopping 596 hectares of forest land 

The state government reconstituted the Karnataka State Wildlife Board and the move has made the green board, a political forum.

The Karnataka Government on Friday reconstituted the Karnataka State Wildlife Board, bringing on board sons of politicians, a mining baron and members to replace experts, who have stood against projects like Hubballi-Ankola Railway line.

This project envisages the diversion of a whopping 596 hectares of forest land and felling of 2.2 lakh trees.

The state government appointed Alok Vishwanath, son of Yelahanka MLA and CM’s political secretary S R Vishwanath, along with B Chethan as an expert member of the Board replacing four existing members described as conservation experts, ecologists and environmentalists.

Another is Dinesh Singhvi, the CEO and managing director of Bharat Mines, which is situated in Ballari, who has been retained as another member. Anand Singh, who holds the forest ministry is said to have influenced into having Dinesh Singhvi on board.

The reconstitutes board made of mainly mining barons and CM’s close aides’ sons has raised several questions on the motive behind the appointment. The action comes nearly six years after the BJP opposed the appointment of Rana George, son of then home minister K J George, as a member of the board.

On March 20, the state wildlife board had hurriedly cleared the Hubballi-Ankola Railway line project and forwarded it to the National Board of Wildlife for approval, overruling the majority decision which had conclusively rejected the project in their 13th meeting held on 9th March, 2020.

Later, the High Court bench headed by Chief Justice Sreenivas Abhay Oka and Justice Nagaprasanna turned down the plea to hear the matter.

Observing the absence of respondents in the court, the Chief Justice said, “Withdraw the decision on Hubballi-Ankola Rail Line and this ends the matter. There is no urgency on this issue.”

Activists are of the opinion that restructuring of the green board could be to cover up the mining activities in the state. Especially with the voice against the mining activities in the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) region increasing, the government most likely is trying to cover up their tracks by having their close ones on board.

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