Goa Against Coal (GAC) denounces Shri Nitin Gadkari’s recent statements revealing his role in blindly serving the private interests of Adani and Jindal at incalculable cost to Goa and Goans. We reiterate our demand that ongoing coal handling in Goa be stopped, all expansion and infrastructure projects for coal be dropped, and that our rivers, seas and water bodies remain as commons to sustain Goan populations in general, and the fishing communities in particular.
Documents perused reveal that there are plans to increase coal handled in Goa from present 12 million tonnes to 51 million tonnes at MPT itself. Khariwada and Baina fisherfolk are already fighting to survive displacement forced by misuse of CRZ laws and Government powers. The double tracking of the Vasco-Londa rail tracks and the widening/ construction of NH 17 A and B, NH 4 A and B and NH 17 are also being carried out for coal handling. After dredging of our rivers, coal brought by ships will be stacked in our fields and transported by road through our villages and wards. Dredging will destroy the lives of our rivers, turning them into lifeless navigation channels and displacing entire communities dependent on the river commons for subsistence and environmental security. This destruction of our socio-economy, especially fisheries, tourism and health, is only for profits for Adani and Jindal from ‘reduced freight charges’ (ample capacity exists on the east coast)!
The people of Goa are aware that the State and Central Governments have concealed this destructive master plan from the people. We know that works for coal infrastructure are being carried out as numerous small unrelated projects, thus concealing even the existence of the coal expansion plan. We have exposed Gadkari’s involvement and asked for CBI inquiry during the Public Hearing for dredging of Vasco Bay. Sensing strong opposition to his destructive mission in Goa and fearing inquiry in the future into his involvement, Gadkari has resorted to threatening to "bulldoze" the projects, calling us “microscopic minority", and making other veiled threats and accusations.
Shri Nitin Gadkari, MPT, Adani and Jindal cannot be forgiven for causing grave environmental destruction by illegally dredging Vasco Bay and causing huge damage to the geological stability, ecology, marine life and fisheries of surrounding area. PWD (NH) and South Western Railways are also mindlessly bulldozing rail and road infrastructure for coal transportation through our villages. With his statement on tourism moving to Maharashtra, Shri Gadkari has exposed the larger plan to make Goa a coal hub for the benefit of Maharashtra tourism. Unfortunately, Goa’s own government is also a part of this plan to destroy Goa.
The people of Goa are undeterred by threats to misuse powers bestowed by us. We overwhelmingly and rightly reject coal, just like we rejected SEZs. Instead, we want development of fisheries, agriculture and sustainable tourism. We therefore demand that both our Governments drop all plans for coal expansion and stop all coal operations, failing which we will take all measures necessary to defend the environment, economy and society of Goa from the blind greed of a few.