CM misrepresented facts on port's coal-handling expansion: Goa Congress

The Congress Goa unit on Friday accused Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar of "misrepresenting" facts on the proposed expansion of the coal handling facilties at the state's only major port.

A letter by Parrikar to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in August that suggested expansion of the coal handling facilities only after measures were taken to curb existing pollution surfaced in the public domain on Friday, amid ongoing controversy over coal pollution in the port town of Vasco.

The development comes two days after the Chief Minister said that his government had unequivocally opposed any plans for the expansion of coal handling berths 5A and 6A by the Mormugao Port Trust, located 40 km from Panaji.

Congress Spokesperson Aleixo Reginaldo accused Parrikar of misrepresenting facts in his Wednesday statement vis-a-vis the letter's contents.

"The letter clearly states that coal handling expansion should be stopped, only until pollution control measures are taken by the company concerned. The letter does not seek a permanent end to the expansion plans. We want a definitive stop to coal handling expansion because of pollution it is causing. That is what we demand from the state government," Reginaldo said.

Parrikar had told reporters: "We had promised in the assembly that we will oppose the expansion, and accordingly, a letter was shot off to the Centre on the state's stand. As per intelligence reports, some vested interests are polluting public mind on the facility." 

Parrikar had also accused the Congress of links to corporate entities importing coal, claiming that the Congress was in power both in Goa and the Centre when the decision to expand coal berths was taken.

The issue of coal pollution erupted in Goa after the Mormugao Port Trust sought permission from the Union Ministry to redevelop and expand four berths at the port. Coal-handling companies Adani Ports and JSW-operated South West Port Limited are already handling coal operations.


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