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Massive protests against making state a coal hub

Sanjana Rajeev 16th November 2020

A large number of Goans gathered at the Railway lines of Chandor in south Goa to protest condemning the government's decision of making Goa a coal transportation hub by marching to the track by forming a massive rally with candles.

Protestors gathered at night on the railway lines of Chandor village in Goa. (Source: msn.com)

The government's 'double-tracking project' involves expanding the southwestern railways mainly to transport coal from goa to north Karnataka. As of now, nearly 10 to 12 million tonnes of coal is imported annually to Goa. The state's residents were enraged when it was revealed that the project will now import over 50 million tonnes of coal annually through the Mormugao port, majorly for the benefits of the Adani Group, JSW Group, and Vedanta.

The project will lead to the destruction of goa's ecological diversities and affect people living around the area. Besides the local issues, Activists claim that the project will cut down many trees and lead to the pollution of the surrounding water bodies.

According to India Today, "work was being done without Panchayat's permission. Moreover, wildlife clearance has not been acquired, and clearance from the National Tiger conservation board; all clearances regarding the entire line's project are still pending with the regional office in Bangalore. Yet railways continue to work illegally."

Residents also expressed their concerns about the effect this project will have on the tourism sector, which Goan economy highly depends on. "After mining, the major industry in which people are directly and indirectly involved in is tourism. So, if coal is allowed in Goa, the tourism industry will collapse. The people will be directly affected because a huge number of people are dependent on tourism," as reported by CNBC TV18.

A day after the protests in Goa, state Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral promised a 'capping mechanism' for importing coal. At the same time, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is expected to provide 'documentary proof' in the coming days.

The project poses Threats mainly in and around Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park, one of Goa's largest protected areas. Currently, the sanctuary is home to more than 70 mammal species, 235 bird species, 219 butterfly species, 44 fish species, 45 reptile species, and 27 amphibian species.

(sources: CNBC News, Herald Go, The Indian Express)

Edited by: Tanya Jain, Anjali Dinesh

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