Wildlife Sanctuary and Park in Goa Threatened by Infrastructure, Deforestation

Worrying news from a memorable landscape

Waterfalls in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary.
Samson Joseph/Creative Commons

Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park, both located in Goa, offer plenty of reasons to visit, including historic buildings, distinctive wildlife and stunning landscapes. But much as idyllic regions in Brazil and the United States have faced destruction or reduction in recent years, so too are things taking a troubling turn in Goa.

At The Guardian, Hannah Ellis-Petersen explores what has many residents of Goa and environmental advocates alarmed. Ellis-Petersen reports that “Mollem and the adjoining Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, covering a protected area of 240 sq km, is set to be splintered and partially deforested by three invasive projects; the doubling of a railway line, road expansion and an electric power transmission line.”

The Goans opposed to the project have argued that India’s national government decided to implement these changes without consulting locals. It’s led to widespread protests against the deforestation, as well as a host of legal challenges.

The article quotes artist Svabhu Kohli, who started the My Mollem campaign, who said, “We are not just saving Mollem forests for their beauty but for the very survival of life in Goa.”

Making matters more contentious are why the road and railway are reportedly being expanded: to increase coal production and distribution, something with negative environmental effects of its own. The Guardian article offers plenty of detail about the controversy, including some of the political elements that may be involved. It’s an unsettling account of power and protest.

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