Mormugao Port Trust’s ambitious expansion plans were put on a hold by the Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry for Environment and Forests, which has recommended a thorough study of the projects including environmental impact assessment.
In the first place, MPT’s proposal to expand the coal terminal at Berth No. 11 has been ordered to be kept on hold for at least two years during which a thorough study of MPT’s mechanization of the coal handling machinery is to be undertaken.
In fact, the EAC has suggested that coal handling be shifted to some other berths away from the Vasco city and to use Berth No. 11 only for clean cargo. This has been offered as a permanent solution and also as a means to avoid public interest litigations in future.
While observing that the permission granted by the High Court pertained only to mechanization of the operations, the EAC has ordered that the environmental issues be studied for two years after which the MPT could move a fresh proposal for expansion of operations therein.
EAC also expressed its displeasure over the manner in which the terms were proposed to the High Court by the Goa State Pollution Control Board, which it felt was scanty and ordered that public hearings be held as per the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification to address the issues raised by the public.
FISHING JETTY: The contentious proposal of MPT to construct a fishing jetty at Katem Baina has been transferred to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and MPT has also been directed to seek necessary clearances under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification of 1991.
CONDITIONS: The EAC has laid down some new terms of reference with regards to MPT’s proposals. They include a proper hydrodynamic study to ensure that the Port’s expansion does not impact the shorelines abutting it, dredging and disposal mechanism to be put in place.
More significantly, the EAC has asked that a comprehensive environment impact assessment be prepared for the port as a whole including the projects proposed under its expansion programme and further noted that the EIA should include water quality and character of sediments for toxic metals line Antimony, Arsenic, Berilium, Cadmium, Chromium +6, Chromium total, Mercury and Lead.
Besides, it has also suggested creating green belt to ensure that the Vasco city does not suffer from adverse impact on environment.
POSTPONED: In a move that will cause heartburn to PWD Minister Churchill Alemao, the EAC has deferred CRZ clearance for the construction of a bridge connecting the villages of Sinquetim and Varca in Churchill’s Navelim constituency.
It may be recalled that this project has generated quite a controversy as locals have slammed it for being a luxury to pander to Churchill’s ego. Besides, one of the land loser had moved the court over the project following which the work was ordered to be stopped till the PWD obtains the CRZ clearances.