Panaji, Nov 9 (IANS) The Congress’s Goa unit on Thursday demanded that all coal-related infrastructure projects in Goa should be stopped because of rising coal-dust pollution levels in the port town of Vasco in south Goa.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, party spokesperson Aleixo Reginaldo also alleged that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari were in collusion with coal importers and were backing moves to expand coal import infrastructure at the cost of the health of residents of Vasco, located 35 kms south.
“We demand that all coal-related infrastructure projects in Goa be stopped immediately and that a high level enquiry should be conducted into corruption and misuse of powers by Gadkari and other BJP leaders to benefit a few corporations,” he said.
A recent report by the Goa State Pollution Control Board has already confirmed that Vasco was severely hit by coal pollution.
The Mormugao Port Trust has sought permission from the Union Environment and Forests Ministry for redevelopment and expansion of four berths at the port.
The proposed redevelopment of the coal handling facilities, is expected to increase import of coal, which is currently 12 million tons to 51 million tons by the year 2030.
Coal imported into Goa is expected to be utilised by steel manufacturing units in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, through a road and rail network, which is also under expansion.
Over the last few weeks, a series of village panchayats across Goa have passed resolutions opposing coal imports and transportation.
Reginaldo also said that the Congress in Goa has backed civil society protests against plans to increase coal imports and nationalisation of rivers, which the Congress leader alleged would be used to ferry coal.A
During his visit to Goa earlier this week, Gadkari had said that coal import operations would be moved out of the coastal state, if there was continued opposition to it, even as he dubbed the opposition to coal imports, as political in nature.
Parrikar on Tuesday claimed that pollution in Vasco was under control.
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