- VASCO: HAULED OVER THE COALS
VASCO: HAULED OVER THE COALS
One high-profile agency handling coal transportation at MPT, Adani Mormugao Port Terminal Pvt Ltd, has been facing plenty of public flak from locals. People have upped the ante against rising levels of coal pollution due to spillages of coal from the transporting trucks. NAVIN JHA maps the sentiments of Vasco’s sentinels
Transportation of coal/coke cargo through city roads and improper handling of this cargo inside the Mormugao Port are the two main reasons that are leading to coal dust pollution in port town of Vasco, leaving citizens to suffer.
In order to understand the issue of coal pollution better, Herald moved around town mapping sentiments of people as they clearly upped their ante and got into agitation mode, clearly unable and unwilling to choke on coal.
Firstly there are two agencies, including M/S Adani Mormugao Port Terminal Pvt Ltd (operations at berth number 7) and South West Port Ltd (JSW) (operations at berth number 5-A and 6-A of MPT) involved in handling coal/coke at different berths inside the MPT. Both these agencies have been using different modes of transport to different destinations.
While Adani has been supplying the coal to the buyers using road transport, JSW which has been importing coal for self consumption, moves out its cargo using only rail transport and not by road.
Time and again, the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has pulled up both these agencies by issuing show cause notices for operating in a manner that has been causing environmental pollution in the vicinity. In reply these companies have also tried to implement some preventive measures to control coal dust pollution, but still pollution level in port town has not been reduced.
Due to improper coal handling/stacking, residential areas of ward number 2, 5 and 6 of Mormugao Municipal Council (MMC) get severely affected and whenever the wind blows towards Vasco city then the situation gets worse.
“I feel that both the coal handling agencies are equally responsible for dust pollution in Vasco. Citizens are not against their operations as there should be a healthy balance between development and environment. Both these agencies should use standard and modern operational/handling procedure like JSW has covered storage shed at Jaigarh Port and that can help in eliminating pollution, plus the water (including PWD supply) they use for sprinkling on coal stack can then be saved,” said Vasco-based environment activist Advocate Savio J F Correia.
He further opined that, “The coal companies should relook at the coal transport method used by them either by rail or roads. The wagons and trucks should be completely sealed with solid metallic object not merely tarpaulins.”
As pointed out by Correia, people of port town largely feel that the coal pollution in and around Vasco town is high because coal is being dispatched by trucks through town roads in Vasco and the city fathers feel that if coal companies cannot adopt measures to stop such kind pollution then MPT should ban road transportation through Vasco city.
“I feel that out of JSW and Adani group operations, the latter contributes largely to coal dust pollution in the city as they have been using road to dispatch their cargo and at every speed breaker, spilling of coal cargo takes place. MMC in past had adopted unanimous resolution to stop coal transportation through the city and now I feel that if Adanis cannot control pollution then they should be banned from handling coal till the four-lane highway connecting Verna to MPT work gets completed,” said MMC Chairperson Deepak Naik.
Like Naik, even the parish priest of St Andrew’s Church Fr Gabriel Coutinho feels “It is seen over the years that JSW does take some precautions whereas Adani keeps their coal stacks open and transportation though roads contribute more to the dust pollution. Also these companies need to use standardised and international method while handling, then people of port town will have no issues,” he said
Though people of port town still believe that coal pollution has increased, MPT, however, has always claimed that coal pollution is already under the control and they have implemented Mitigation measures to control the same.
Agencies should be banned from handling coal, if they can’t control coal pollution: mmc Chairperson
Out of JSW and Adani group operations, the latter contributes largely to coal dust pollution in the city as they have been using road to dispatch their cargo and at every speed breaker, spilling of coal cargo takes place. MMC in past had adopted unanimous resolution to stop coal transportation through the city and now I feel that if Adanis cannot control pollution then they should be banned from handling coal till the four-lane highway connecting Verna to MPT work gets completed
Timeline on Coal operations at
u Coal dust pollution has been a cause of concern since MPT allowed coal handing at its berth number 10 and 11
u Public resentment against coal pollution has been prevalent since 2000
uIn 2004 MMC councillors support agitation against coal pollution and even criticize then Chairman of Pollution Control Monitoring Committee K P Rao, for declaring Vasco free from coal pollution; in the same year (2004) JSW started operations at MPT’s berth number 5-A and 6 A.
uNational Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), appointed by the High Court to examine coal dust pollution, gave alarming findings about the rise in pollution level in port town.
uIn March 2009 the Bombay High Court directed the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to conduct periodical monitoring of ambient air quality of areas that have been exposed to coal dust pollution in Vasco, caused due to coal handling at berths 10 and 11.
uIn 2011, citizens under the banner of Mormugao Bachao Abhiyan along with NGO’s launched mass protest alleging that coal pollution control measures suggested by NEERI were not being honored by MPT.
uIn 2012, the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) ordered to stop coal handling by the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) at berth numbers 10 & 11
MPT later stopped coal handling at berth number 10 and 11 and restricted coal handling in the berth number 5-A and 6-A berths leased out to Jindal South West Port Ltd (JSW)
uIn June 2014 Adani started handling coal for the parties whose cargo was earlier handled by Mormugao Port Users Association at berth number 7 of MPT under mechanised system.
uGSPCB in last few years issued notices to MPT as well as coal handling agencies, including to the Adani operations, due to rise in coal pollution; GSPCB installed additional ambient air quality monitoring station in the port town to measure the pollution; Adani and JSW installed two such stations each close to their operational area
u On January 4, 2016 the MMC adopted resolution to stop coal and bauxite transportation through Vasco city.