Panaji, Nov 4 (IANS) The Congress in Goa on Wednesday slammed the National Board for Wildlife (NBW) for granting clearances to three central projects in the protected forest areas of Goa, while also announcing a public rally to create awareness about the damage that the projects earmarked in Mollem village in the Western Ghats are likely to cause.
“The land in Mollem, a large part of which is protected as Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary since 1969 and the Mollem National Park since 1978, needs to be protected forever to maintain the ecological balance of Goa,” former Chief Minister and Congress MLA from Poriem, Pratapsingh Rane, told a press conference here.
“These areas consist of endangered species like tiger which is our national animal and gaur which is our state animal. The National Board for Wildlife is supposed to protect bio-diversity and not give free hand for disturbing and destroying the nature,” Pratapsingh Rane said.
Nearly 50,000 trees located in and around Mollem village have been slotted for felling for the multiple central government projects which includes expansion of railway lines and highways and drawing of a new high tension power, spread across protected forests in and around Mollem village.
The projects had already been cleared by the National Board for Wildlife in April this year.
Opposition as well as civil society groups and tourism bodies have expressed their apprehension that the projects are being pushed at an “express pace” to facilitate movement of coal imported through the Mormugao Port Trust facility in Goa to steel mills in Karnataka’s Bellary district and nearby areas.
Earlier this week, opposition parties and civil society activists held a combined midnight protest blocking the South Western Railway track for several hours as part of a campaign to “save Mollem”.
The Congress has also announced a public rally on November 7 in Margao town as a continuation of the campaign.