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Pollution control board orders inquiry into pollution in all Port cities

The Environment Ministry has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to provide air quality status at all port cities in the country in the light of investigations by a national daily about the damage caused to the environment due to transport of coal from Mormugoa Port in Goa to various parts of the state though road, rail and river.

Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said the issue of pollution caused due to transportation of coal in Mormugoa port has not been brought to his ministry so far.  Now that the issue has been raised by a National daily, it has been referred to Central Pollution Control Board to submit necessary details on the basis of adequate monitoring of data from the Mormugoa and other port cities on the basis of existing National Air Quality Standards.

In case of non compliance of air quality standards near the Mormugoa port, necessary measures will be taken to identify the source of pollution and issue such direction as necessary under Air( Prevention and Control of pollution) Act 1981 and Environment (Protection) Act 1986

Meanwhile the Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that his Ministry will check all the issues raised and we will not do any work in Goa Port which affects the state’s environment.”

Speaking in Panjim after a mid-term review meeting of major ports under the Sagarmala umbrella last week, Gadkari said: “I do not want to force development on Goa…It’s up to Goans whether you want it or not.

On coal issue, I have seen myself….I traveled down the highway and I counted 10 coal trucks that crossed me. They all were covered. Even then, if Goans say they have grievances, it will be checked. Some are politically motivated, and there is a microscopic minority which always opposes everything in this country. I will have to respect them as that is their right under democracy. But in this country, there is a balance between environment and development. We will look into all the issues raised carefully,” he said.

We will not do any development by opposing the wishes of Goans. We will look to other states. We are looking at Vijaydurgh. We will shift out…whichever activity you oppose we will shift it out…I have asked the Mormugao Port Chairman to check all the points raised by the newspaper.

In a similar situation the Supreme Court had banned handling of coal in Chennai port about ten years ago. The ban continues today and the port had lost its major cargo while nearby ports like Krishnapatnam and Kamarajar port Ennore are thriving by handling coal.

The Railways Minister Piyush Goyal had said that the Railways has started exploring a design change in its rolling stock to see if coal and other minerals like iron ore can be carried in covered wagons instead of open ones to prevent coal dust from contaminating the environment.

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