Alarm bells as axe looms over Karmal Ghat trees
18th November 2019, 02:20 Hrs
the goan I network
Around 13,000 trees are likely to be felled to widen the Karmal Ghat section of the NH-66 highway on the eco-sensitive Western Ghats for the 4-lane road construction, sparking off concerns from environmentalists in Canacona taluka.
One of the three phases of road widening works of four-laning of NH-66 in Canacona taluka, the Char-Rasta to Karmal Ghat section is likely to be taken up in the second phase once the 7.74 km Char Rasta to Maxem four-lane road (with 3-major bridges), is commissioned shortly.
Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant during his visit to Canacona in the first week of June had in the presence of Deputy Speaker and Canacona MLA Isidore Fernandes informed that forest clearances have been granted for the four-laning of Karmal Ghat section.
Maxem to Polem stretch will be completed in the third phase.
On learning about the forest clearance for work on the Karmal Ghat section (which falls in Canacona and Quepem talukas) Greens and residents have raised an alarm. They have launched ‘Save the Karmalghat’ campaign to stop slaughtering of the ecologically sensitive Karmalghat, considered as a ridge of the Western Ghats.
Abhijeet Prabhudessai in his petition requested the Chief Engineer (Roads, Highways and Bridges) to protect this part of the Western Ghats in Canacona and Quepem talukas by constructing a tunnel instead of causing ecological devastation by carrying out the widening of the existing road.
Prabhudessai narrated that the Karmalghat is a ridge of high, steep mountains extending east to west from the main ridges of the Western Ghats and needs to be protected at all costs.
Attaching a map from Google Earth, Prabhudesai suggested the construction of a tunnel parallel to the existing KRC tunnel which according to him will not only be cost-effective but also do away with all the negative impact the road widening will have on the wildlife and local communities.
It is learnt that the forest authorities have marked more than 13,000 trees from Gulem (Canacona) to Balli (Quepem) for felling, whenever road widening work is taken up.
Canacona residents have now launched a campaign to Save Karmalghat. One of the campaigners Sandesh Telekar said, “We all want development to happen in our respective areas and would never want to oppose it. But we want sustainable and need-based development. We are at a crossroad. Let’s put in our efforts to save the Karmal Ghat and in turn save ourselves.”
Another environment lover Dennis Fernandes called for the fight for not only saving the flora and fauna of Karmal Ghat alone, but of the entire Western Ghats. “The authorities can go for a tunnel as it will reduce the distance and it will be a win-win situation for all in the long run,” he said.