AHEAD of next month’s local body elections in Goa, which may be a litmus test for the assembly polls in 2022, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Sunday that the three linear projects in the state, against which local residents as well as environmentalists have been protesting, were not just for transportation of coal but for the development of the coastal state.
A “coal versus environment” narrative is expected to dominate the poll season.
Speaking at the inauguration of the limited height subways at Kamral and Cacora and a foot overbridge at the Sanvordem Curchorem Railway Station, about 50 km south of Panaji, Sawant said the linear projects – doubling of railway tracks, a national highway and the Tamnar power plant – were being executed keeping the future of Goa in mind. “Many people oppose for the sake of opposing. They don’t even know who the project is for. They oppose following someone else’s instructions. They oppose only to politicise the issue,” Sawant said.
The three projects – double-tracking of a rail line from Karnataka’s Hospet to Vasco; laying down a 400-kv power transmission line and four-laning of the existing NH 4A – have been at the centre of a face-off between the government and environmentalists.
“We will never cause difficulties for the people. At the outset, we also had differences with railway officials. But we brought them to one platform and resolved the differences. We are prepared to rehabilitate anyone whose home or compound or school is affected. This project is not just for coal,” said Sawant.
He said the state government has also sought assistance of the Centre to enhance the infrastructure at the Mormugao Port Trust. “As we get assistance from the Centre, we will develop the infrastructure of Mormugao Port Trust. Not only for coal, it will be for exporting our pharma products also for imports that are currently taking place from JNPT. We have sent a proposal to the shipping ministry already,” said Sawant.
“We will go ahead with the Tamnar Power project, the national highway and the doubling of railway tracks. It is not just for coal, it is for tourism, for passengers. We are building the infrastructure that will last the next 50 years,” Sawant said.