Goa has said no to expansion of coal handling facility: Manohar Parrikar

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday accused the Congress of proximity to the Adani Group and JSW Steel, both of whom operate coal-handling berths at the Mormugao Port Trust(MPT) in Vasco in South Goa.

Reacting to continued criticism of his government from anti-coal pollution groups, media, residents of Vasco town, and the main Opposition Congress, who have opposed coal pollution, Mr. Parrikar said at a post-cabinet press briefing that his government had already opposed expansion of existing coal handling facilities at the MPT and written to the Centre way back in August. At the same time he subtly downplayed the issue of pollution in the port town, claiming it was under control.

“The coal licences were approved and MoU was signed before 2012, before I became Chief Minister,” Mr. Parrikar said.

“Actually this explains that Congress can do anything. They were okay with Adani, they were okay with JSW. You ask them why they are okay with them,” Mr. Parrikar said responding to allegation made last week by Congress that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government was in league with the coal importer lobby.

Mr. Parrikar also said that the MPT was a Central government agency and coal handling deal was signed much before Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge.

While reiterating that his government has opposed expansion of coal handling facility way back in August, Mr. Parrikar alleged that the protests against coal pollution continued to be carried out by vested interests, many of them non-local, according to intelligence reports he was receiving.

The same vested interests, he said, were also spreading lies about nationalisation of rivers when there was nothing called nationalisation of rivers.

“(River) nationalisation is being used by vested interests on purpose. I am getting intelligence reports indicating (on issues like) coal and rivers, some people are activated. They are not from Goa, they are from somewhere else. They are trying to make an issue out of nothing,” Mr. Parrikar said.

“In both these issues, on purpose, some organisations are working. Their approach is to create chaos and confusion. They cannot bear to see that the government is functioning well. Or some people have other agendas,” Mr. Parrikar also said.

The Goa Chief Minister opined that the MPT should focus more on attracting cruise ships rather than importing coal, considering that Goa is one of the top tourist destination of international repute.

Mr. Parrikar’s attack on Congress comes against the background of the long simmering issue of coal pollution, which further erupted after the MPT sought permission from the Union Ministry Environment and Forests for expansion of coal importing facility at the port. Two companies, Adani Ports and the JSW-operated South West Port Limited are already handling coal operations.

Coal imported into Goa is meant to be utilised by steel manufacturing units in the neighbouring Karnataka, through a road and rail network.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 5:54:58 PM |

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