Herald: Railway should explain who owns the track: SWPL
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Railway should explain who owns the track: SWPL

13 Jan 2018 06:51am IST

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13 Jan 2018 06:51am IST

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Vice-president of The South West Port Ltd blames all but themselves for pollution; Tells SURAJ NANDREKAR the pollution is not from coal but from hectic construction activity, bad roads and emission from vehicles

The South West Port Ltd, which is in the eye of the storm for excess coal handling, has blamed everybody else but themselves for the pollution in the Vasco city.

According to the company the pollution on the railway tracks is a concern of South Central Railway and the dust in the city is due to the hectic construction activity, vehicles and bad roads.

“We alone can’t be blamed for the pollution. You come at the port and point out what is wrong where and we assure you if there is something wrong we will correct it and if we don’t we will shut the business,” says JSW Vice President RR Patra in an exclusive chat with Herald.

Patra says his company applies highest mitigation measures to cut pollution.

”What is pollution? It is if you do manual handling and load trucks, which gives rise to dust. But if we are doing everything mechanised and there is no dust where is THE pollution? What is the problem?” he said.

When pointed out that coal pollution was there for everyone to see on the tracks, he said, “that is something railways should reply. We have asked them for closed wagons long back but they haven’t reverted.”

When asked whether he meant to say there was no pollution in Vasco, Patra, replied, “There may be pollution in Vasco but we are not responsible for it. There could be many reasons for that like in Delhi. Initially, it was said that the vehicles polluted the city but when a study was conducted it was concluded that it was due to industrial pollution”.

Similarly, he continued, “at present in Vasco you tell me how much construction work is going on, see the number of industries the number of vehicles there and potholed roads that also contribute to pollution.”

“We have to find out the factors contributing to pollution,” he added.

So why has GSPCB asked SWPL to cut on coal handling and suspended operation? Patra says, "the GSPCB show cause notice says nothing about the pollution, they say you have exceeded coal handling. But I say we have perhaps exceeded marginally.”

“Once a ship comes with a load it is sometimes more sometimes less and perhaps due to that we may have handled more but the numbers are confusing,” the JSW vice president says adding “by practice we have applied the highest mitigation measures and we want to go further with it”.

Patra says the company is erecting a closed shed with all sides covered so that there is not even a marginal chance of pollution.

“We are doing a cover shed for entire operation; nobody has told us to do that. If somebody says still there is pollution than we can’t do anything about it,” he says.

However, Patra says, If the state does not want something nobody can force it.  

“...but the state also has to understand there are livelihoods. Industrialists can move out, what happens to 450 locals employed there? You must also understand that 58 per cent of MPTs revenue comes from us and they have 1700 working staff and 4500 pensioners. What happens to them?” he asked. 

On the SWPL’s expansion plans, he says, “We are not getting any extra land we are not getting any extra berth. Our area is 33,000 sq metres and it will remain same but what we are trying to do is get better loading machines which will send half coal directly to wagons and half will go in the closed shed so there will be no dust.”

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