There’s pressure on environmental agencies to allow more coal to pass through Goa
In 2012, when the Bombay High Court ordered the closure of two berths at Mormugao Port Trust that handled the arrival of coal imports, the residents of Vasco in Goa felt a sense of relief.
In late 2011, the port trust told the court that the enclosed terminal could be built on berth 11 by October 2014, and that open air coal operations on berths 10 and 11, which are closest to the city, could be moved here.
The Goa State Pollution Control Board is the state government agency that enforces environmental laws in the state.
For many years, the board kept a watch over the coal handling operations at Mormugao Port Trust.
But in 2013, when the port trust sought permission from the pollution control board to open the terminal, the board raised concerns about increasing coal handling at the port.
The port trust never submitted the study, and the enclosed terminal never came up.
The inspection report concluded that another agency be hired by the environment ministry at the centre to review the Wapcos study and give a second opinion.
Around this time, the Mormugao Port Trust chairman I Jeyakumar visited the coastal authority members “for an informal chat over tea”, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In December 2015, based on its inspection report, the coastal authority sent the port trust’s proposal to the environment ministry to conduct further studies.
The hearings are organised by the state pollution control board.