Random check on coal wagons from MPT reveals lax attitude in controlling pollution; People living along the railway route at risk
VASCO: On November 22 and 23, the Herald investigation team had exposed how coal spillage along the tracks, during transportation, is still a daily reality. In continuation of this investigation, the Herald team again hit the ground and randomly followed a few coal wagons transporting the cargo to Karnataka for over a week.
This time the Herald team tried to ascertain whether the claims of maintaining high standards by coal handling agencies is correct or not and the real picture was nothing less than a shocker as out of five cargo trains tracked by Herald, two moving coal wagons from MPT had gaps in the tarpaulin cover over the rakes, which in turn leads to pollution of all the railway route, thereby putting at risk all those living in the vicinity of the railway tracks.
Ironically after the Herald expose on spillage of coal along the route, those living in the vicinity of railway tracks thought that things would change, and the agencies concerned would take care while transporting coal though rail, but they were wrong as the reasons behind the spillage has not yet been sealed completely.
After seeing recent pictures of gaps in tarpaulin cover over the rakes, Cyril Fernandes, social activist from Vasco who is an active member of Goa Against Coal (GAC), said, “We consider these coal wagons as ‘moving tarpaulin-covered graves’ and that is why we don’t want any coal in Goa. The way they are still transporting coal with such gaps in the covering is condemnable and the attitude of Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) is more condemnable.”
Vasco-based environmentalist and social activist Advocate Savio Correia has similar views. He said, “Tarpaulin covers are not an efficient method of curtailing pollution as it flies against the wind. The coal imported is very fine dust that flies across the tracks, enters our homes. Tarpaulins are prone to winds and it will catch them at the edges however tight you tie it down. Looking at the picture I feel that if their (coal handling agencies) intention is to prevent the cargo from falling out and from dust flying out then tarpaulin cannot be used at all. It is like though we are in computer age and are doing something of bullock cart age. In other countries they use metallic cover.”
Responding to Herald queries, a senior MPT official said, “Our instructions are clear that the cargo should be properly covered. We have got environment engineers who are moving around to check all such issues with regards to proper covering of coal cargo. Besides that we have other officers from traffic who also check before the train leaves the port area to its destination. I don’t deny, but it may be a rare sight where due to human error workers sometimes miss out to tie the tarpaulin with hooks properly but it’s very rare and this does not happen on a daily basis.”