Akola-Khandwa Railway Line Threat to Melghat Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra, Awaits Clearance

Reported by

Prerna Chaurashe

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016

Updated on

September 19, 2016

Location of Conflict

Melghat

Amravati

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Railways

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

3000

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

161

ha

Starting Year

2016

State

Maharashtra

Sector

Infrastructure

In 2016, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar proposed a plan to upgrade the AkolaKhandwa railway line passing through Melghat Tiger Reserve. The Indian Railways finalised the upgradation of 174 kilometres of the Akola Khandwa railway meter gauge section at an estimated cost of INR 1,454 crore, which was later revised to INR 2,000 crore in 2019. Of the total gauge line between Akola in Maharashtra and Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh, 39 kilometres pass through the core and buffer zones of Melghat Tiger Reserve in Amravati district. In December 2017, the environment ministry asked the railways to apply for forest clearance saying "they would need to apply for forest clearance even if they owned the land, since fresh forestland was to be diverted". The project soon came under the scanner of environmentalists and activists, who criticised the project for its ignorance and negligence to the tiger reserve. In 2018, a Nagpur citizen filed a petition against the project. He contended that the tiger reserve provides a passage to tigers to pass to other habitats, and if a broadgauge conversion was allowed, it would risk the animals being run over by trains. He also pointed out that the converted railway line, which would pass through the buffer zone, would be a violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act and Wild Life Protection Act and, therefore, the project should be declared illegal. The National Tiger Conservation Authority published a report in which it had advised the Indian Railways to look for an alternative route for the line. But the report mentioned that the Railways was not keen to construct an alternate route as it would be longer and would lead to an additional cost of INR 556 crore. In late 2018, the approval for the project was challenged before a Central Empowered Committee constituted by the Supreme Court, which asked the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) to review the projects clearance given its impact on a tiger reserve. In February 2019, it was reported that activists claimed victory after the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife rejected the proposal to upgrade the meter gauge. The NBWL is the highest decisionmaking body of the environment ministry on projects related to national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves. In July 2019, the state government put the project on hold following its rejection by the NBWL. However, the Railways have reportedly cited that the meter gauge line has existed inside the tiger reserve since before 1980 and should not need additional forest clearance for other projects. Based on a report in June 2020, the railway line from Akola to Akot station has been constructed. Currently, the railway ministry is awaiting the approval of the Supreme Court and the environment ministry.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

2000

Type of investment:

Revised Investment

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2 [Forestland shall not be used for non-forest purposes without the prior permission of the Union government]
Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972
Section 29 [No person shall divert the habitat of any wild animal except with the permission of the Chief Wild Life Warden]; Section 38O(b) [The Tiger Conservation Authority shall evaluate and disallow ecologically unsustainable projects within tiger reserves]
Railways Act, 1989
Section 11(a) [The railway authorities may construct across any land permanent railway tracks as it deems proper]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Violation of environmental laws

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Yes

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Supreme Court of India

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

State Board for Wildlife

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

South Central Railway (SCR) - Indian Railways

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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