Goa CM Pramod Sawant Commits to Reduce Coal Handling at Mormugao Port by 50%
The Goa government plans to reduce coal handling at Mormugao port by 50%, Prime Minister Pramod Sawant said on Sunday while speaking during an interaction with children who had called him to urge him to stop importing coal due to the pollution in the towns around the port and the railway.
The children met Sawant as he was leaving a performance. The children, who were accompanied by some adults, carried banners demanding that the importation of coal cease to reduce pollution. The group was part of a larger agitation against the importation of coal in Goa.
Sawant, who met with Union Maritime Transport Minister Mansukh Mandaviya last week, said efforts were underway to reduce the amount of coal imported through the port by exploring other products or services that could be promoted in port.
“I assure you that the importation and handling of coal will be reduced by 50 percent. We will cut carbon and we are in the process of stopping it as soon as possible. We can’t stop it completely. The industries are in (have been running) for 40 years, ”Sawant said.
“There are 2,000 people working there. They also have young children. First we have to give them another job and then leave the coal. Once the other job starts, we will reduce the carbon and shut it down completely. Give us some time, ”Sawant said.
Around 12-14 million metric tons of coal and coke are imported through Goa’s Mormugao port mainly by steel units in northern Karnataka. Goa has seen intermittent protests against the state government’s plans to improve coal handling at the port as envisaged in the Sagarmala program.
The protests intensified in recent months after the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests approved a plan for the double tracking of a railway line that runs through the Western Ghats along with other infrastructure projects, which environmentalists say were it is doing solely to improve the transportation of coal. capacity by rail from the port to the inland industries.
A Change.org petition calling for the scrapping of projects started by a group of students has garnered around 150,000 signatures in just a few days.
“It will mean permanent damage to the tiger’s habitat, since the project road was already marked as a tiger reserve by the National Tiger Conservation Authority. In this region in addition to the trees, there are 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 species of mammals, 508 species of birds, 179 species of amphibians and 325 species of globally threatened wildlife that reside here. The railway duplication project is set up to transport coal between states and to connect with the port of Mormugao, which will cause a lot of pollution, ”the petition says.
However, Sawant has said the projects will bring other benefits as well.
“People think there is double tracking for coal. We are creating infrastructure for passengers and other basic products as well, ”he said.