Monday, 24 April 2017

Indian dealing of MPT expansion affairs in Goa is totally colonial arrogance

Bharat Mukti Morcha (BMM) strongly objects expansion plans of Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) to facilitate increased quantity of Coal imports. Over the past one decade there has already been public outcry due to the air pollution caused by Coal handling at MPT.

BMM also takes strong objections to the way in which public participation was prevented by Central government with the collusion of private business houses with the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Environment and Forest while granting permission to MPT for the capital deepening of Navigation Channel for cape size vessels. Deepening is meant to facilitate supply of coal to hinterlands of Karnataka to JSW power plant and steel factory for freight advantage.

There is no public interest involved in MPT’s venture. Goa in fact is being treated only as corridor. Politically Central Government’s affairs in this matter can only be described as colonial. BMM commends challenge to this affairs mounted by Old Cross Fishing Canoe Owners Co-operative Society in National Green Tribunal (NGT). The investigations commissioned by NGT confirmed that actual damage has already been done to the estuarine environment, the biodiversity in particular. BMM calls for criminal proceedings against all those responsible for causing this damage.

NGT on September 2nd 2016 quashed Environmental Clearance of February 9th 2016 granting exemption from public consultations as illegal, arbitrary and in violation of the EIA notification, 2006. It’s clear that central government has followed unethical path in MPT case in order to avoid public consultations all together. MPT’s Affidavit in NGT dated 15th July 2016 stated that already 64 % of the project dredging work is completed and Rs 87.25 crores paid to M/s DCI. This means majority of the work has already been completed before public hearing. This is unacceptable and bulldozing of Goa by Central Government.

Solutions suggested in EIAs of Beths 5A and 6A to combat coal pollution carries scope to intensify public suffering. When there is already shortage of water can 5 lakh litres of water be made available to JSW on daily basis including 3 lakh litres per day to extinguish coal fires? MPT would be far safer without Coal and Coal importers. MPTs total daily water requirement as per their draft EIA is 16 lakh litres.

The intensity of coal import also means increase in flow of barge traffic in Mandovi and Zuari rivers. Already there are number of problems due to barges in both the rivers. Mining companies like Vedanta has filed complaints against fishermen citing slowing down of barge traffic and fishermen should not carry on fishing in the middle of rivers. Fishing department also has sent out warning letters to fishermen taking side of Vendanta. With increase in barge traffic fishermen in Mandovi and Zuari are to face tough times as fishing would become impossible.

In none of the three EIA reports fishing villages on the banks of River Zuari like Cacra and Odxel is not even mentioned to have been existing.

MPT now plans to deepen its approach channel from 14.40 meters to almost 20 meters to facilitate entry of cape size vessels at any time of the tide. Its ecological, public health and political costs are heavy that Goa is unable to bear. 

It’s not only people of Vasco that are directly affected negatively but entire coastal residents and fishermen on the banks of Zuari. Increase in Barge traffic will push fishermen out of their livelihood. Regularly observed irresponsible practice of dumping left over ore and coal in Mandovi and Zuari and washing of barges in transit will only increase doze of pollution of rivers causing unpredictable and irreversible effects on ecology and livelihoods.

MPT must shelve its expansion plans for coal purpose. BMM calls upon people to participate in Public Hearings at Tilak Maidan, Vasco on 26, 27 & 28 April 2017 and lodge their objections to JSW proposal for Berth 5A-6A and MPTs proposals of deepening of approach navigational channel and re-development of berths 8,9 and Barge berth at MPT.

Maggie Silveira
President, Goa Unit


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