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Yatra to create awareness on threats faced by Goa from dirty coal

By: Goyant Kollso Naka

We will be holding a month-long yatra in the State to create awareness of the authorities’ “diabolic” plan to convert Goa into a coal hub through the double-tracking of the railway line.

coal hub
Representative image/ Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The yatra starting from 2nd October 2020 (2.30 PM) at Guirdolim-Chandor
and will culminate on the same day. Thereafter, the Yatra will travel to different villages every day in order to build solidarity of our lands and communities and to spread awareness among the people of Goa regarding the threats faced by Goa from dirty coal.

We call upon all Goans to actively involve themselves in this struggle for
the survival of our lands and communities and to participate in the Yatra in order to build solidarity and awareness.

We studied the Sagarmala and Bharatmala programs, MPT’s Master Plan, National Waterways Act, 2016, Right to Fair Compensation Act, 2013, Railways Act, 1989, RP 2021, and Inland Waterways Authority Act, 1985. We have also studied the ongoing coal transportation infrastructure works in the State, including the double-tracking of Vasco-Hubli railways, which has enraged all Goans. These studies clearly show that plans are made and are
being implemented to make Goa a coal hub for private corporations wanting to build massive power and steel plants at Karnataka.

Our studies shockingly reveal that not only have the politicians of Goa kept the people of Goa in the dark about this diabolic plan that will affect all of us, but are actively encouraging and taking part in this blatant attack on Goa and Goans. For example, many people living along the tracks have refused to give consent for the acquisition of their lands.

The present land acquisition law does not allow the acquisition of lands without the consent of the people. Newspaper reports state dated 5.9.2019 state that the Union Minister of State for Railways, Suresh Angadi, said that they will shift the railway project to another State if Goa cannot give the land. The people’s representatives named in the newspaper report, Mr Pramod Sawant, Mr Shripad Naik and Mr Digamber Kamat, should have welcomed the alternative.

Instead, as reported by media on 24 th December, 2019, the Chief Minister with the support of Mr Mauvin Godinho decided to advise the Union Government to forcibly take the lands using the colonial Railway Act, 1989, which is unconstitutional and anti-people.

A second example is the betrayal, not just of the people of Goa, but also the future generations and our environment, by the decision to allow railway double-tracking and highway construction through Mahavir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in our Western Ghats, only for the profits of private corporations. The Wildlife Board Meeting Minutes reveal that this devastation was approved by Mr. Manohar Parrikar, Mr. Rajendra Arlekar, and Mr. Ganesh Gaonkar in the meeting held in 2016, and by Mr Pramod Sawant, Mr. Pratapsingh Rane, Mrs. Alina Saldanha, and Mr. Prasad Gaonkar in 2019.

A third example is the plan to convert Zuari, Mandovi and Cumbharjua rivers into shipping channels for transportation of massive amounts of coal, thus displacing the villagers living along the rivers of Goa. If the rivers of Goa are converted into shipping channels, the very essence of Goa will be destroyed permanently. Goan culture and civilization will be wiped
out. When the Union Government asked the Goa Government its opinion, our Government approved the nationalization of our rivers, without even informing the people.

This deadly, secret plan also has the support of the politicians representing the people living along these rivers, who have kept their unsuspecting voters in the dark. Mr. Subhash Shirodkar, Mr. Sudin Dhavalikar, Mr. Pandurang Madkaikar, Mr. Francisco Silveira, Mr. Nilesh Cabral, Mr. Clafasio Dias, Mr. Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, Mr. Wilfred D’Sa, Mrs. Alina Saldanha, Mr. Jayesh Salgaokar, Mr. Pravin Zatye, Mr. Pramod Sawant, etc are thus ensuring the destruction of the lives and livelihoods of their own voters in the near future. Mr. Vijay Sardesai, who portrayed opposition to the nationalization of rivers for a short while before jumping into the
ruling Government 3 years ago, is also silent now.

On 1 st July 2020, the Cabinet approved the acquisition of 1,235 sq m in Majorda for the double-tracking. It is shocking that acquisition of lands belonging to private parties and the Comunidade and tenanted agricultural lands are being approved by the cabinet, without even informing the people concerned, or following procedures of notifying the land acquisition and giving an opportunity to affected persons to submit objections to the acquisition.

The Cabinet should have listened to the people’s unanimous demand not to acquire lands for this coal transportation infrastructure.

Freddy Travasso, from San Jose de Areal who has been at the forefront, opposing the double-tracking said, “Green Goa” will be converted into “black Goa” if it is made a hub for coal transportation. He pointed out that the authorities did not have any documents and even plans.

The people of Goa therefore need to fight this battle unitedly, as a people’s movement. We has full faith in the people of Goa and we are certain that every person will come out to stop the double-tracking to ensure that the
future generations and the State of Goa are saved from the coal transportation plans of the big corporations.

Goyant Kollso Naka

Goyant Kollso Naka

Goyant Kollso Naka is a people’s movement to stop coal transportation through Goa

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