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Govt defends linear projects, assures not to increase coal handling

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Panaji:  Notwithstanding demands from the opposition benches, Goa government on Friday refused to scrap three linear projects in the state which allegedly fears to destroy the environment.

During the three-hour-long discussion on a private members’ resolution demanding scrapping of three linear projects, the opposition claimed that these projects were detrimental to the environment of the state as they pass through Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National park on Goa-Karnataka border.

The opposition claimed that these projects were ploy to convert Goa into the coal hub.

The three linear projects include widening of the National Highway, Double tracking of the railway line and a power transmission project.

Defending the state government’s stand, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that the state government will not allow the increase in handling of the coal in the state.

“On the other hand, we will work towards reducing the coal handling in the state,” he assured the House.

He admitted that there may be some problems related to the double tracking of South Western Railway but largely the project is taken in the interest of the nation.

“All the three projects are conceived considering future of the state,” the chief minister said.

State Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral said that there is no plan to make Goa into a coal hub. He said that these were the projects of national importance, which are designed by the central government.

Cabral assured on the floor of the House the state will not increase the quantum of coal which is currently imported at Mormugao Port Trust in the state.

He said that the state government, on the other hand, was working to reduce the coal handling at the MPT.

Cabral said that the double tracking of the railway line was required to meet the increasing need for the traffic, while augmentation of the power line was planned considering the power requirement of the state for future.

Earlier, the opposition benches led by Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat, Goa Forward party MLA Vijai Sardesai and Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte laid scathing attack on the government.

BJP MLA Alina Saldanha too joined the chorus appealing the government to scrap the double tracking project and become “hero in the eyes of the people.” She said that double tracking was detrimental to the welfare of the people who are living alongside these tracks.

Khaunte demanded that the state government should provide cumulative impact of all the three projects besides the environmental and social impact.

 

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