PANJIM: Goencho Avaaz (GA) has linked the rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths to the coal handling at the MPT.
“The continued rise in the number of people getting affected with the coronavirus especially the meteoric rise in the number of deaths is not just shocking, but intriguing due to the fact that majority of the casualties reported are in and around the port town,” said Captain Viriato Fernandes and Swapnesh Sherlekar, GA co-convenors.
They demanded that the government should come forward and explain the reasons behind the silence despite Vasco and surrounding areas turning out to be the epicentres of the COVID-19 deaths, including death of a municipal councillor supporting their panel.
“The fact that the chairman of the municipal council as well as many officials in various government departments in the port town getting affected by the virus and escaping with near death condition should have raised alarm, even if deaths of ordinary citizens did not matter to this embattled government,” they said.
GA claimed that there is a wide spread belief across the State. especially the medical fraternity about the undeniable link between prolonged exposure of the people living in the Port town to the fine coal particles, and same being the root cause for the increase in COVID related cases including deaths.
“Medical and scientific studies across the globe have clearly established the disastrous effects on human beings and damage to the body organs when exposed to coal dust and coal-related atmosphere. Diseases like asthma, serious lung ailments, and other related diseases, including cancer, cardiac diseases, strokes, neurological disorders, premature deaths directly linked to coal. Also, the inability of infants, children and the aged people to withstand the dangerous effects of coal pollution is highly vulnerable to face the onslaught of the coronavirus,” they said.
Further, they said, WHO had released official figures running into lakhs of deaths every year directly linked to coal pollution in places dealing with or close to coal handling activities.
“In this context, there is a need to study the rise in COVID cases in Vasco and nearby areas and officially establish the link with coal pollution being the root cause and reason behind turning the port town into the epicentre for COVID-19 crisis in the state of Goa,” GA says.
They appealed to the government to immediately constitute a committee or appoint a reputed research agency experienced in research to undertake extensive study to scientifically study the coal pollution in Vasco and surrounding areas and its undeniable link with COVID-related cases in Vasco.
“This will help not only to prevent further deaths but also help the scientific community the world over to find possible solution to fight such virus-related diseases and boost immunity against the virus,” GA added.