Panaji: Britain is the most polluted country in Europe and its Swindon town, which has a sizeable population of Goan expats, is also “highly polluted”, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday.
He was speaking during a discussion in the assembly on a private members’ resolution moved by former Congress Chief Minister Ravi Naik, seeking action against those responsible for coal pollution emanating from excessive coal handling at Mormugao, the state’s only major port.
“Lots of Goans stay in UK Swindon. It is a highly polluted town with high PM (particulate matter) 2.5,” said Parrikar, who had earlier this week had warned NRIs and expats against advising him about Goa-related affairs, especially related to the coal pollution controversy.
The Chief Minister also termed UK highly polluted, with pollution levels four times that of India.
Parrikar said that he was against pollution, but added that those who wanted coal banned from Goa, should themselves work at reducing their carbon footprint.
“Those who are against coal and are green, they should reduce use of cars… they should go by cycle,” he said.
Parrikar also said, that there were attempts being made through media reports, to defame Goa as a tourism destination, especially because the state’s inbound tourist traffic had quadrupled.
“(Media) reports are used to declare everywhere that Goa is no more a good tourist destination,” he said.
Parrikar also said that all the permissions for starting coal handling facilities at the Goa Port, were granted when the Congress government was in power at the Centre, including the permission given to the Adani group for coal handling.
“This is as you call BJP’s person. He has got all orders during your time,” Parrikar told the opposition party.
The Chief Minister said, that no expansion of the existing coal handling facilities would be allowed henceforth and only coal which is consumed by local industries would be allowed to be transported within the state.
The issue of coal pollution erupted in Goa, after the Mormugao Port Trust had sought permission from the Union Environment and Forests Ministry for redevelopment and expansion of four berths at the port. Three companies operate coal handling berths at the port namely Adani Group, JSW steel and Vedanta.
Coal imported into Goa is expected to be utilised by steel manufacturing units in the neighbouring Karnataka, through a road and rail network, which is also under expansion. A large chunk of Goa’s more than 180-odd village panchayats over the last few weeks, have passed unanimous resolutions to disallow coal transportation, while the Congress has also upped its ante against the proposed coal imports.