Dozens of youth from Goa have urged Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde to protect Goa’s “precious wildlife ecosystems”, especially in and around the Mollem National Park and Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, which they claim are threatened by three projects related to road and rail expansion and setting up of a power transmission line. “We have come as far as we can and will continue to do whatever is possible to protect our heritage, but today we need the support of those who understand the immeasurable and irreplaceable value of our precious wild ecosystems. We hope you will recognise the urgency driving our letter, and do what you can to make sure that Goa’s identity and future remain secure at this very critical juncture,” the letter to Bobde, authored by youth associated with the ‘Save Mollem’ movement said.
Bobde is in Goa to inaugurate a new building premise which will house the Bombay High Court. “Our Constitution has enabled us to continue protecting our natural heritage, and further, 240 square kilometres have been accorded special protected status under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act. The Bhagwan Mahaveer National Park and the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary together form the largest protected area of our beautiful state,” the letter said.
“We, Goa’s youth, are worried by the threats that 3 destructive linear infrastructure projects pose to the future of our forests and by extension, of our state. The projects’ managers have applied to cut 38,724 trees, which will lead to severe fragmentation in the National Park and Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary,” it also said.
The thousands of trees in the Western Ghats region of Goa are slotted for felling to facilitate three projects, including the rail track expansion, spread across the protected forests in and around Mollem village located in the Western Ghats region. The Western Ghats have been recognised by UNESCO as a global biodiversity hotspot.
Opposition as well as civil society groups and tourism stakeholders bodies have expressed apprehension, that the projects were 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.