PANAJI: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today said his government will ask the Union environment ministry not to allow expansion of coal handling capacity in the coastal state.
The companies which import coal through the Mormugao harbour in Goa have been asked to reduce their capacity by 25 per cent for failing to control pollution caused by coal dust, Parrikar said in Legislative Assembly.
Congress legislator Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco raised the issue. He feared that the government was trying to convert the port city of Vasco into a coal hub, the MLA said.
Parrikar said as the air pollution in parts of Vasco had increased beyond permissible levels, the government had already asked the Mormugao Port Trust to "stop importing all powder material".
"We have reduced the current (coal handling) capacity by 25 per cent and we are prosecuting those who are exceeding the capacity," he said.
The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) had written to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change about problems arising from coal import activity, he said.
"The state government will also write, before July 31, to the Union ministry, informing them about objections to the expansion of coal handling capacity," Parrikar said.
After curtailing the coal handling capacity by 25 per cent, another study to check pollution levels will be carried out in October, he said.
"We will ensure that the company (importing coal) will control the amount so that they don't pollute...if they don't do that, they will face closure," he said.
The companies importing coal did not invest in controlling air pollution, which they could have done by constructing a dome (over the coal handling facility), the chief minister said.
"Our directions are very clear that we don't want pollution. I am going to monitor it," he said.