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Sagarmala, a plot to displace fishermen: Goencho Avaaz

VASCO: Members of the NGO ‘Goencho Avaaz’ on Sunday criticised the Sagarmala project of the central government stating that the project is a conspiracy made by using Mormugao Port Trust (MPT), aiming to displace Goan fishermen and pave way for coal imports into the state.

Co-convenor of ‘Goencho Avaaz’ Capt Viriato Fernandes alleged that the Sagarmala project aims to make Vasco a coal hub.

“The necessary infrastructural facilities in Vasco are created only to benefit the coal transportation,” alleged Capt Fernandes. He said that the MPT is out to displace Goans, basically the fishing community, from Vasco in order to make way for the import of coal. The doubling of railway tracks will only benefit the transport of coal consignments from MPT, he said.

“The Sagarmala master plan is not a simple draft but formulated only to kill Goans,” alleged Capt Fernandes. He opined that the coal dust can impact human life severely. He said that the structures at the Baina beach were razed to the ground by the state administration only to benefit the coal companies, which are operating from the MPT. The deepening of MPT’s navigational channel is also aimed at bringing in capesize vessels along with coal import into Goa by the MPT which will increase capacity beyond 51.1 million tonnes, said Capt Fernandes.

He said that there is no need of generating power in the state by depending on coal imports. “Nobody can stop the supply of electricity through central grid power to Goa,” he claimed.

Speaking on the construction of new Mandovi and Zuari bridges, Capt Fernandes said that the height of the bridges has been raised in order to benefit the capesize vessels. He said that under the National Waterways Act 2016, land on both sides of the rivers will be used for setting up jetties, docks and wharfs. “The then chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar has betrayed the people of Goa by giving consent to examine the Bill and agreed upon National Waterways Bill,” alleged Capt Fernandes. He also alleged that MPT chairman I Jeyakumar was an agent of Union Shipping and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Convenor of ‘Goa Against Coal’ Custodio D’Souza slammed the Goa State Pollution Control Board for granting a fresh consent to JSW to operate coal. He demanded that the state government hand over the wholesale fish market at Margao to the local fishermen and that the government should act against fish mafia in the state after the row over formalin in fish.

Anti-coal activist Sanjay Redkar said that Article 21 of the Indian Constitution gives right to the people to live with clean and healthy environment. “We need clean air, water and food,” said Redkar. He said that people should remain united in order to fight for their rights.

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