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Coal handling at Goa port to be reduced by 50 per cent: CM

IANS | November 25, 2020 04:00 PM

PANAJI:Coal handling at Goa's only major port, the Mormugao Port Trust, would be reduced by 50 per cent, said Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday amid environmental concerns over the increased handling and transportation of the fossil fuel.

Addressing a press conference at the state Secretariat after chairing a cabinet meeting, Sawant said his cabinet had empowered him to discuss the controversial double tracking of railway line and national highway expansion. These projects have been criticised by the Opposition and civil society groups for being part of a "grand plan" to facilitate a coal transportation corridor through Goa to the steel mills in Karnataka.

"Coal will reduce in the long run. However, we will not be able to reduce it all of a sudden. Nearly 1, 500 families are dependent, including 4, 500 pensioners, on the revenue generated by the Mormugao Port Trust, " said the Chief Minister.

Sawant said the port authorities were looking for alternative cargo to reduce the reliance on coal handling, adding that the issue would be discussed once the Union Minister of State for Ports, Mansukh Mandviya visits Goa.

"Regarding the other two projects, double tracking (South Western Railway line) and National Highway (NH-4A), talks are on and the Goa Cabinet has empowered me to discuss the issues with Central Ministers, " he said.

Nearly 50, 000 trees in the Western Ghats region of Goa are slotted for felling for multiple Central government projects which include expansion of railway lines, highways and setting up of new power transmission lines through the forests in and around Mollem village.

The projects were cleared by the National Board for Wildlife in April this year.

However, the opposition Goa Congress, civil society groups and tourism organisations have expressed apprehension that the projects were being pushed at an "express pace" to facilitate movement of coal imported through the Mormugao Port Trust in Goa to steel mills in Karnataka's Bellary district and nearby areas.

According to Goa's Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral, at present 10 to 12 million ton coal was being handled at Mormugao Port Trust by the Adani and JSW groups.

The Minister assured that the state government was willing to cap or even reduce the existing limit of coal handled at the port, adding that the rail, road and power projects in and around Mollem village had little to do with coal transportation.

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