• Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Ministry of Environment Sees Red, Flags Buddy Rail Line Plan

Ministry of Environment Sees Red, Flags Buddy Rail Line Plan

The ministry asked whether the ‘new broad-gauge railway line from Chandi Mandir to Baddi’ was in an eco-sensitive zone.

The Union Environment Ministry has raised questions about the proposed new rail line from Chandimandir to Baddi. The Ministry of Environment asked whether the project “New Broad Gauge Railway Line from Chandi Mandir to Baddi” would fall in Eco Sensitive Zone or not. The question has been raised following complaints that environmental regulations were ignored while approving the project.

The biggest allegation is that despite the Buddy Rail project falling in an eco-sensitive zone, the promoters have not even applied for permission under the Wildlife Act. Despite this, it was given the go-ahead at the regional empowered committee level and then given in-principle approval under the Forest Protection Act.

Now the Regional Empowered Committee has also come under scrutiny on this question of the Central Ministry. The matter came up for discussion at the committee level on 17 May 2023. Although there was no detailed discussion on the eco-sensitive zone, an important question was raised that the proposed project for laying the rail line passes through the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary and hence a no-objection certificate should be obtained from the Chandigarh Forest and Wildlife Department. However, Northern Railway officials sidestepped this important question by assuring that the Wildlife Act would be dealt with at the level of wildlife authorities if it comes into effect.

In the application for the establishment of the Buddy Railway, information about the sensitive area was hidden and completely ignored by the Regional Empowered Committee. In fact, under any forest conservation law, an application for use of forest land is required. In this application, it is required to indicate whether the scheme falls under a Protected Area or an Environmentally Sensitive Zone.

The railway department has written in the application that the project does not fall under any eco-sensitive zone. The interesting thing is that even though the application was made at the level of the Regional Empowered Committee, even though Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary was discussed, no one questioned the wrong information given regarding the eco-sensitive zone.

There has been no inquiry into the in-principle approval of the Chandimandir-Buddy rail project, but it is true that the Union Environment Ministry has sought an answer regarding the environment-sensitive sector. It has been asked whether the project to lay the railway line falls under the eco-sensitive zone or not,” said Govind Sagar Bharadwaj, Deputy Director General of Forests, Regional Office, Chandigarh.

The Ministry of Environment raising questions on the issue has started to raise doubts about the project. The matter will go to the level of the National Wildlife Board as it is at least within the scope of an eco-sensitive zone. It is clear that if the approval of the National Wildlife Board is not obtained, the construction work cannot be carried out and this project will be in limbo. Amazingly, construction has already begun.

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