NEW DELHI: The ongoing political tussle in Goa between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress seems far from over.
A day after Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant charged the previous Congress government led by ex-Chief Minister Digambar Kamat of increasing the coal handling limit of Goa’s Mormugao Port Trust by 5 million tonnes in 2012, another former Chief Minister and senior Goa Congress leader Luizinho Faleiro on Saturday flayed the ruling BJP government, saying if the previous Congress dispensation had erred, the present BJP government must make amends to scrap the decision.
“I have a document showing that former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat gave permission to increase coal handling by 5 million tonnes at the Mormugao Port Trust on March 2, 2012 and while the code of conduct was on in the state, coal was not brought by us. Instead it was brought by the Congress which is responsible for leaving Goa in such a state,” said Sawant on Friday night at a public meeting in North Goa’s Parra village.
Speaking to reporters in Panaji on Saturday, Congress’ Faleiro, however, said if the Congress erred in the past, the Sawant-led BJP government must make amends, especially in the wake of the recent protests by the opposition and civil society groups.
“If the Congress made a mistake, the state government must scrap the projects,” Faleiro 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 new power transmission lines spread across the protected forests in and around Mollem village.
The projects were cleared by the National Board for Wildlife in April this year.
The opposition and civil society groups and tourism bodies have expressed apprehension over pushing the projects at an “express pace”, facilitating movement of coal imported through the Mormugao Port Trust facility 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 tonnes of coal was handled at the state’s only major port, the Mormugao Port Trust, by the Adani and JSW groups.
However, Cabral has assured that the state government is willing to cap or even reduce the existing limit on coal at the port, adding that the railway, road and power projects in and around Mollem village had little to do with coal transportation.