Shocking statement by Industries Minister that Red category projects aren’t banned in Goa; project not in thrust area of Investment Board; TCP & Regional Plan to be bypassed
PANJIM: The House witnessed a major uproar on Thursday with the opposition leading a scathing attack on the government over the Investment Promotion Board’s (IPB) in-principle approval to Delhi based Vani Agro Pvt Ltd for setting up of an alcohol and brewery industry at Amdai in Sanguem taluka. In an unexpected statement, the government informed the House that though alcohol and breweries are considered as “red” category industries, they are not banned in the State.
The Opposition, including Congress’ Digambar Kamat, Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco and Independent MLAs Vijai Sardesai and Rohan Khaunte, countered the government for granting illegal permission to “highly polluting” industry, which is not even the “thrust area” as proposed by the government. The opposition grilled Industries Minister Mahadev Naik for granting permission despite the entire Amadi village objecting to the project.
The opposition even alleged involvement of a local MLA who holds a share in the unit. The ruling benches, however, raised a point of order appealing to the opposition to name the MLA.
Trying to justify the IPB move, Naik said that though the industry is categorised as “red” and is not in the thrust area; there is no ban on introducing such an industry in the State. “The question does not arise as the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has already granted consent to the industry in March 2014,” Naik informed the House. Former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, however, informed the House that the government in the past was of the view that no new red category industries should be allowed in the State.
He told the Assembly that the unit has already got permission from local bodies and from the Excise department. “We have declared the proposed unit site as investment promotion area,” he said.
“With closure of mining industry, the locals from the village are left jobless. The project proposal has been granted in-principle approval considering the significant employment potential of 500 jobs for local and revenue to the State by the unit,” Naik added.
The reply came as shocker to the opposition, with Sardesai questioning whether government will allow any kind of polluting industry just because it is creating employment and revenue for the State. “Tomorrow if I come with a proposal of a polluting industry with employment potential to locals, will IPB give me permission?” he questioned.
Sardesai further alleged that once Goa Governor granted assent to the Tree Preservation Act – declassifying coconut as tree – work to set up the unit began at Amdai. “This itself proves that the amendment was introduced to facilitate Vani Agro,” he charged.