Goa Against Coal – Why you should be concerned about the MPT project in Vasco

 In Community

On 26th April 2017, citizens from all across Goa came to Vasco to voice their objections to MPT’s proposed coal expansion project. The three day hearing which began yesterday at 10.30 am went on well past midnight with the people refusing to budge until all had their say.

Here’s what you need to know about this issue.

What is the project about?

    • The state aims to increase coal imports at Mormugao Port and transport it through the state to steel factories in Karnataka.
    • Mormugao Port Trust, a government-owned port located near Vasco, plans to increase the amount of coal imported each year, from around 12 million tonnes now to 51 million tonnes by 2030.
    • The coal will be transported by road and rail to steel factories in north Karnataka.
    • The coal is handled at Mormugao Port Trust by JSW and Adani Ports, while Vedanta Resources recently proposed a coal terminal.
    • The expansion project has been split into three parts: dredging, expansion of the berths, and expansion of coal capacity. MPT have sought separate environment clearances for each of these. The three proposals are up for public hearings from Wednesday to Friday.

Locals at the hearing – Courtesy Shrayragi Israni

Why should you care?

  • The project is split in three to avoid unveiling the full, cumulative impact of the entire project. By breaking it down into three smaller projects, MPT is trying to show reduced environmental and sociological damage from the project.
  • In 2012, High Court ordered closure of two coal-handling berths due to excessive pollution. This was when 5 million tonnes of coal were being handled at the port. The proposed project will see around 51 million tonnes by 2030.
  • Dredging of the port will displace the fishing community living in Vasco and surrounding areas.
  • Chicalim Bay is a biodiversity hotspot and dredging will damage the ecosystem and severely affect marine life.
  • The coal will be carried from the port to factories in Karnataka by rail and road passing through multiple villages in Goa.
  • Coal particles in the air raised during transportation can cause severe, and potentially deadly, respiratory problems.
  • Goa is already suffering from the effects of mining, with dust causing pollution and affecting people all along the mining belt.
  • People in Australia, where Adani has a coal mine and port, are protesting about coal dust pollution and the destruction of the environment. Protesters have succeeded in having Westpac, one of Australia’s leading banks, pull out from funding Adani’s mining ventures.
  • One of the proposed highways connecting NH-17B to NH-4A, will pass through more than five hectares of forest land, levelling countless trees.
  • In August, the then state environment minister Rajendra Arlekar said the air ambient quality monitoring stations installed in Vasco had shown dust pollution emanating from the port. The proposed expansion will only increase the pollution levels, unmitigated.
  • MPT plans to use almost 500 cubic metres of water to keep the coal dust down. This will put serious pressure on Goa’s depleting water resources.
  • Coal sludge (the liquid coal waste generated by washing coal) contains toxins. Leaks or spills of this sludge can endanger underground and surface waters.
  • Adani, one of the companies pushing for the project, has a dark and disturbing history of environmental and human rights abuses.
  • Adani has been repeatedly been guilty of severe environmental law breaches, and has failed to disclose the true environmental impact of its operations many times over.

Goa Against Coal – Courtesy Shrayragi Israni

What you can do

  • Read more about the issue and understand the implications of the project.
  • Attend the hearing and put your objections across in written or oral form.
  • Share images and information about the hearing on your social media platforms to spread awareness.
  • Join the Goa against Coal Facebook group to keep yourself updated on the issue.
  • Talk to people around you and spread awareness.  You are the primary stakeholder in Goa’s future. Goa is banking on you for preservation.
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