Environment Minister calls for restriction of MPT’s jurisdiction

: The Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) management’s alleged move of accepting private proposals allowing two floating hotels and two Marinas in the Zuari river have been criticised by the Minister for Environment and Forest Alina Saldanha.

In a statement issued here on Thursday evening, Ms. Saldanha, who has been taking up the cause of the fisherfolk and traditional inhabitants of the coast, lashed out at the MPT.

Accusing the MPT of thinking of its own revenue generation, the Minister has raised the issue of ecological and environmental damage such projects may cause to the State and its people.

“The MPT is also not bothered if its mega projects adversely affect the other stakeholders in the area, such as traditional fishermen like Ramponkars, Magkars and other fisherfolk,” said the Minister.

MPT chairman Mara Pandiyan had recently told The Hindu that the proposals have been suggested by a few entrepreneurs. All the parameters of the projects will be studied in detail and only then will decisions be taken.

Ms. Saldanha objected to indications given by the MPT that it was left to the promoters as to where they want to anchor the floating hotels and, accordingly, space would be provided to them.

Upping the ante against the MPT, the Minister said that the MPT continued to exercise powers which were entrusted to it during the colonial period.

The MPT should not be allowed to treat the rivers and inland/coastal waters of Goa as its private fiefdom, leasing massive land\water area to various parties, she said.

Referring to the proposals of the two marinas in the Zuari river, Ms. Saldanha said the areas proposed for the Marina projects were very rich in biodiversity.

“But for MPT it is only an area of water which can leased out for income generation regardless of the costs to people, their livelihood, the environment and ecology,” Ms. Saldanha said.

The Minister said “it is high time the State government takes up the matter with the Union government to ensure that the MPT’s jurisdiction is restricted to a well defined port area, as is the case with other ports in the country.”

Struggling to overcome its financial crisis following ban on iron ore mining, the MPT, which was once the country’s leading iron ore exporting port, is trying to diversify.

Interestingly, with the cooperation of the State government, the port has been trying to promote tourism with nearly Rs. 50 crore investment already in place.

  • The MPT’s chairman had recently said decision on the matter would be taken after the proposals were studied carefully

  • The MPT is thinking only of its own revenue generation: Saldanha