Ecological Battle _ Hubballi-Ankola Railway Line UPSC

Ecological Impact : Hubballi-Ankola Railway Line | UPSC


Hubballi-Ankola railway line will augur desertification, water crisis, warn experts

      WHY IN NEWS:

The proposed 164-kilometre railway project cutting through Western Ghats will prompt deforestation and accelerate climate change impact, say experts

MINISTRY? :- Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Environmental Impact Assessment : Environmental Degradation


For PRELIMS go through the map and Map out Sahyadri Hills Today itself ! Compare the Project with other ongoing projects too . That is how you will remember more .

For MAINS this is a massive example of desertification . Pull up your socks and take a pen and paper to scribe a wonderful answer on desertification and water crisis.


The Hubballi-Ankola railway line, approved by the Karnataka government March 20, 2020, will lead to desertification and a water crisis  


Ecological Impact _ Hubballi-Ankola Railway Line UPSC

  • FRAGILE WESTERN GHATS : The proposed project has already raised fears of massive damage to environment and biodiversity in the ecologically fragile Western Ghats.
  • CORE ZONE : About 80 per cent of the proposed 164-kilometre railway project cuts through the core forest lands.

  • WETLANDS IN DANGER : At least 995.64 hectares will be given for the project, of which 595.64 ha will involve forest land; 184 ha wetland; and about 190 ha dry land.

  • DEFORESTATION : The amount of land that will have to be deforested will amount to aproximately 1,337 ha.
  • WATERSHED AREA : The proposed railway cuts through the heart of Sahyadri mountains that comprise half of the watershed area.
  • CATASTROPHIC EFFECTS : The linear cutting of the hills reaching the coast will be catastrophic.


  The project would require construction of bridges, roads and infrastructure along with the machinery.

  • GROUND WATER RESERVES : Water holding capacity of the area will drop, it will adversely affect percolation of underground water.
  • FLOODS AND DROUGHTS : Farmers and population downstream will suffer from water scarcity and droughts.
  • RIVER MOUTHS : About 60 rivers originate from the Western Ghats and provide water to peninsular India.
  • CROPPING PATTERN : There will be change in cropping pattern with water availability.
  • DESERTIFICATION : Drinking water will be scarce and eventually lead to desertification.

The railway line project between Hubbali and Ankola (marked by red dots) was cleared by the Karnataka government on March 20, 2020.


  • CLOUDS CONDENSATION : In the absence of forests, clouds won’t get the condensation temperature and move ahead.
  • FOREST BRING RAINS : Allowing the clouds to precipitate is one of the main functions of the forest.
  • MICROCLIMATE REQUIREMENT : Dense forest area provides the microclimate required by clouds for condensation.


  • LESS RAINFALL :  Reduced rainfall will eventually affect the population in south India and aggravate the water crisis.
  • ECOSYSTEM COLLAPSE : The whole forest ecosystem will collapse as the habitat will be fractured, forest temperature will change, and birds, animals and other species will move out.

This phenomenon, in the long run, will cause desertification.

  Experts also believe the government ignored a geological impact assessment for the project as well.


  • BLASTING MOUNTAINS : Controlled and uncontrolled blasts carried out in the area will rupture the formation of mountains that took place over billions of years ago.
  • RUPTURED ROCKS : The fractures will affect the primary, secondary and tertiary flow of water in the slopes of the region.

Landslides get reported in parts of Coorg and Western Ghats for the same reason.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Other projects such as the National Highway-75 Shiradi Ghat project, Mangaluru-Bangaluru railway and highway project, Yettinahole project, power plants and other projects which just cut across the core forest areas in the region are equally dangerous to the ecology.

The forest matter acts as a sponge.

Massive plantation drives will not help as a forest cannot be reproduced.

“There is already a railway line that remains underutilised. Why is there a need to construct a shorter line at the cost of environment?”

     SOURCES:DownToEarth | Ecological Impact : Hubballi-Ankola Railway Line | UPSC


DISCOVER MORE : Important Environmental Issues for Prelims 2020

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