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To, Shri Prakash Javadekar, Chairperson, National Board for Wildlife Honourable Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh, New Delhi - 110 003 Date: 7th October, 2020 Dr. Pramod Sawant Chief Minister of Goa Chairperson, State Board for Wildlife [email protected] Shri Nilesh Cabral Vice-Chairperson, Goa State Board for Wildlife Honourable Minister of Forests Minister of Forests, Goa [email protected] Sub: Representations to cancel the clearances passing through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Goa: 1) Double tracking of the railway line, 2) Four-laning of NH 4A, and 3) Laying a 400kv transmission line for the Goa-Tamnar Transmission Project. We, the undersigned, are making this appeal to you as the Current Union Environment Minister and to the Chief Minister of Goa and the Environment Minister who is the Vice-Chairperson of State Board for Wildlife about our written representations about Mollem National Park and Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in the State of Goa. The projects are: 1) Double tracking of the railway line from Castlerock to Kulem (cleared in the 56th meeting of the SC-NBWL dated 17th December 2019) - 138.37 ha of forestland required; 22,882 trees to be felled. 2) Four-laning of NH 4A (cleared in the 57th meeting of the SC-NBWL dated 7th April 2020) - 63.615 ha of forestland required; 20,340 trees to be felled. 3) Laying a 400kv transmission line (Cleared in the 57th meeting of the SC-NBWL dated 7th April 2020) - 48.3 ha of forestland required; 15,772 trees to be felled. We are shocked to hear that at an official press conference with the current Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC), he stated ‘If I receive the memorandums, I will definitely respond.’ The Union Environment Minister’s press conference was flooded with questions about the Mhadei (Mandovi) River issue, the destructive Mollem projects, and the recently-passed farm bills (As Environment Minister the meeting with Goan farmers was emphatically announced as one that would be closed to press). The Union Environment Minister deflected on each of these environmental issues, saying that they would be answered by Dr. Pramod Sawant, the Chief Minister. The press conference--held one day after Gandhi Jayanti, when Goans walked from east to west of the state, in silent protest against the Mollem projects--was ultimately one more event in the Union minister’s visit that angered citizens who have written repeatedly to the Central Empowered Committee, NBWL, Goan elected representatives and to Union Minister who claims not to have received any of the official letters addressed to him. The current Union Environment’s Minister insistence that you have not received official memoranda from the state also comes as a surprise after Goa Environment Minister Shri Nilesh Cabral assured citizens in early September that he would write to the Union Minister regarding the Mollem projects. There seems to be a system where Goan leaders pretend that they don’t know anything--and when central ministers are questioned, the issues are rallied back to the Chief Minister. As citizens we are also curious about how an official, public letter to the National Board for Wildlife and Central Empowered Committee--which listed detailed concerns while citing the relevant science, and that received over 70,000 signatures--seems to have not made a blip on the undoubtedly sharp radar of the current Union Minister for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. Few months ago the National Internet Exchange of India had to restore 3 websites being used by youth all across Goa and India to bring to light the clearances given without due diligence. Over the last 4 months, thousands of stakeholders have written to you in your capacity as current Environment and Chairperson of the National Board for Wildlife in objection to the projects. As the current Union Minister of the MoEFCC, it falls upon you and the State Forest Minister and Chief Minister of Goa to take citizens’ concerns into consideration. These three projects have prompted widespread protests across the state. It is very disheartening the State and Central Government’s apathy towards as hundreds of students have written about ‘One Health’ and how deforestation can cause a rise in zoonotic diseases. As students, they requested that the State and Centre look into this matter and not pass the buck of responsibility. The letter is one of a number of official letters that were sent to you as current Environment Minister, the NBWL and the Goa Government. Scientists, teachers, artists, architects, lawyers, small business owners, travel and tourism stakeholders, and school and college students have all written to you as the current Union Environment Minister and relevant Goan elected representatives. In order to refresh your memory, the following is a list of representations that have already been sent to the Central Empowered Committee and National Board for Wildlife till date: 1. 150 scientists 2. Scientist who have worked closely with livelihoods around Mollem 3. Prerna Singh Bindra, former member NBWL 4. 400+ students (One Health) 5. College Students 6. 150+ tourism stakeholders 7. Lawyers from across India 8. 153 Small-business owners 9. 100+ Veterinarians 10. Project Affected Citizens 11. Travel Tourism Association of Goa 12. 100+ Teachers 13. 181 Architects 14. 249 Artists 15. Alina Saldanha, ex-Forest Minister and Member of Legislative Assembly, Bharatiya Janata Party 16. Rohan Khaunte, Member of Legislative Assembly, Independent 17. Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, Member of Legislative Assembly, Indian National Congress 18. Digambar Kamat, Leader of Opposition, Member of Legislative Assembly, Indian National Congress 19. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Goa 20. Citizens letters support through Let India Breathe, Jhatkaa and change.org The whole purpose of critically appraising each project and evaluating them in conformity with the letter and spirit of the law has been undermined. Instead, State Board for Wildlife and National Board Wildlife has rushed to grant clearances in violation of their mandate. We urge you to revoke these clearances and consider the irreversible impacts of these three projects passing through Goa’s largest protected area that is situated in the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage site. SIGNATORIES Copy to: PCCF (Forest Clearances) Goa Forest Department [email protected] Chief Wildlife Warden (Wildlife Clearances) Member Secretary, Wildlife Advisory Board Goa Forest Department [email protected] [email protected]