Panaji: Goa Forwar Party (GFP) President Vijay Sardesai on Sunday wrote to Union Minister State for Tourism and Ports, Shipping and Waterways Shripad Naik urging him to be Goa’s voice in Delhi.
In a letter, Mr Sardesai said Mr Naik should use his portfolios of Ports and Tourism to put a stop to Mormugao Port as coal hub and, instead, make it an international cruise destination.
‘Over the last many months, Goem is facing the looming spectre of being transformed into a coal transportation hub with no benefit to Goem or Goemkars, but which will only spell disaster for the ecology and environment of our natural endowed state. On the one hand, the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) is using The Major Port Authorities Act 2021 to gobble up nearly the entire coastline and all riverbanks, while the nationalisation of six Goan rivers along with the three linear projects in the Western Ghats will deprive Goem and Goemkars of the rest of their natural heritage. All these laws and projects threaten to destroy our natural beauty and finish Goem as a tourist destination,’ he said.
‘With the mining industry closed down, tourism is, today, the only viable economic activity on which a majority of Goemkars depend. But the prospect of becoming a coal hub will sign the death warrant to our tourism. Our traditional fishing communities and industry will also disappear if coal transportation through our rivers becomes a reality. As Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, you, must be aware of the fact that the only beneficiaries of making Goem a coal transportation hub will be the big business lobbies who will transport the coal and the MPT. No industrial activity in Goem will benefit, and benefits for Goemkars, if any, will be extremely marginal. However, the end of tourism and fishing, which is a natural corollary to coal transportation, will bring on, not only environmental disaster to our Goem, but also economic ruin to all Goemkars,’ he said.
He alleged that the state government had taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic of the last year and a half to speed up the conversion of Goem into a coal hub.
‘As Minister for Ports, you can take immediate steps to halt the development of Mormugao Port as a coal transportation hub and act to convert it into a tourism port, as it has the potential to become one of the most preferred cruise destinations of the world. I also request you to advise the MPT authorities to put a full stop to their expansionary motives and concentrate on making the port a truly international port for high-class tourism,’ he said.
‘As Minister for Tourism, you are in the ideal position to promote, not only Mormugao port, but all of Goa as a tourism destination with a difference, promoting clean, healthy and family tourism. I sincerely request you to act immediately before you are assigned any other responsibility,’ the former Deputy Chief Minister said.