PANAJI: Hundreds of people, including some leaders of the Congress and other parties, sat on a rail track in South Goa to protest against a rail doubling work, claiming it is being done to transport coal from the state to neighbouring Karnataka.
The Goa government, however, said the protest is "politically motivated" and unwarranted.
Several people, under the banner of 'Goyant Kollso Naka' (GKN-don't want coal in Goa), gathered at Chandor village, located 50 km from here in South Goa district, around 11 pm on Sunday and continued the protest till 5 am on Monday.
Representatives of various political parties, including the opposition Congress, the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), also took part in the protest.
The protesters said they were against rail doubling as it involves cutting of trees in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and a national park on the border of the state.
Talking to reporters at the protest site, Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly Digambar Kamat alleged that the state government was planning to convert Goa into a coal hub.
The Congress leader claimed the double-tracking on the South Western Railway line is being done to help coal-handling companies carry their cargo from the Mormugao Port Trust here to their plants in neighbouring Karnataka.
Goa Power Minister Nilesh Cabral, however, said the movement against coal was "politically motivated".
"There is no intention of the government to increase the coal-handling capacity. The rail double-tracking is required to run more trains. It has nothing to do with coal- handling," he said.
Cabral said coal is already being taken to Karnataka in the existing cargo vansby the South Western Railway, but there are no complaints received from people living along the railway line.
He also said some protesters had met him in the past with their demands.
"I had told them to support their claim that Goa is being converted into a coal hub," he added.