Government panel’s nod to Goa port expansion worries experts

An expert panel’s approval for the expansion of Goa’s Mormugoa Port will increase its coal handling capacity but result in an adverse impact on the environment, said green activists on Friday.

An expert panel of the environment ministry– the expert appraisal committee (EAC)— had recommended the grant of environmental clearance (EC) to the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) for the deepening of the approach channel for handling Capesize vessels and for increasing the size of two berths to handle bigger cargo ships, in its January 28-29 meeting. The recommendation was made to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Capesize shipping cargo vessels are so large that they cannot pass through the Suez canal and have to go round the Cape of Good Hope, hence the name- Capesize vessels.

The Mormugao Port has proposed to deepen the existing navigation channel in Vasco bay from about 14 meters to 19.5 meters over a large area with a width of about 250 meters and a length of about 10 km.

“We are still hopeful that if we sufficiently petition the MoEF, they can yet reject the EAC’s recommendation. The MoEF will have to consider the health, coal dust and pollution issues of Vasco’s residents,” Diana Tavares, a Goa-based environment activist said.

A fishermen union representative said the clearance was based on an EIA report that was flawed.

“If you are to dredge 12 million cubic metres of sand and create a channel 12 km long and 600 metres wide, it will not just destroy us fishermen, but also potentially affect Goa’s tourism industry by causing increased erosion along the beaches,” Olencio Simoes, a representative of the ‘Goenchea Raponkarancho Ekvott’, a traditional fishermen’s union said.

The EAC in its recommendation has proposed a ban on underwater blasting and dredging during the fish breeding season along with other measures to prevent depletion of the fish stock in the area.

The Hindustan Times
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