Goa will not be turned into a coal hub: Cabral

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Vasco: Stating that people are having a wrong conception that the double-tracking is being undertaken only for transportation of coal, Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral Friday said Goa will not be converted into a coal hub.

Clearing his stand on the issue of coal, the minister said he will join hands with the protestors if it emerges that the double-tracking project is meant only for transportation of coal. He also said he will stand by Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha if the government decides to make Goa a coal hub.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an inauguration function at the Dabolim airport, Cabral said, “Double-tracking is the need of the hour and it is a necessity for development of the state. Double-tracking is linked to Railways through the port and there is no doubt about it. People’s conception about double-tracking being meant only to facilitate coal transportation is wrong.”

“If coal comes to Goa, I will be the first person to come onto the road to support Cortalim MLA Saldanha and stand by her in the agitation. Double-tracking project has not been approved by the central government but proposed by consultant in the Sagarmala project. We will object to the works that are against the people. The central government will consult the state government before implementing the project. Things that will not benefit Goa and Goans will not happen. The state government will see to it that the projects that are against the people and environment will not come up in Goa,” said Cabral.

Admitting that the people will face some problems due to the double-tracking project, Cabral said the government will try and come out with some amicable solution. “I can assure on behalf of the Goa government that it will find out a solution,” he said.

Cabral said the state government will take in writing from the central government that the projects that are against the interests of the people will not be undertaken in the state. “We will see that the central government gives a letter in writing and it should be made public for the convenience of people and protestors,” he said.

Speaking on the power transmission line project, Cabral said, “It is the need of the hour, as Goa requires a 5 per cent increase in power supply every year.” He also said the 400 KV line will be laid not only for the Railways to transport coal from Goa but “the diesel locomotives will be electrified thus helping in reducing pollution”. He said a memorandum of understanding will be signed with the project proponent to grow more and more trees to keep the ecological balance intact.