The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has issued a show-cause notice to JSW Group’s South West Port Limited (SWPL), threatening to revoke its ‘consent to operate’ for exceeding the quantity of coal the company was allowed to handle at Goa’s Mormugao Port. While asking JSW to respond by December 6, the Board asked the company to explain why it had “misrepresented facts” in its report to the pollution watchdog.
In a seven-part investigation into the transport of coal by rail, road and water across Goa, The Indian Express had found that JSW Group has been exceeding its import capacity since 2012, getting 10.11 million tonnes in 2016-2017 alone, against an awarded consent of 5.48 million tonnes. Earlier this year, GSPCB further reduced SWPL’s permitted capacity by 25 per cent, to 4.125 million tonnes annually.
In the notice sent to JSW, the pollution control body compares an email sent by the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) on July 25, 2017, to SWPL’s data submitted to the GSPCB as part of an ‘Environmental Statement Report 1-Form V’ and points to discrepancies in figures. It says that while the data submitted by MPT indicates that SWPL handled 10.112 million tonnes annually of coking coal/coke, according to SWPL’s data to the Board, “you have handled a cumulative total of 6.01 million tonnes during the said year”.
“This misrepresentation by you as well as the factual excess handling of coking coal/coke during the year 2016-2017 amounts to a gross violation of the conditions as stipulated in the consent to operate order dated July 21, 2017, thereby violating the provisions of Air Act and Water Act,” reads the notice signed by GSPCB member-secretary Levison Martins. GSPCB has also pulled up the corporate for “consistently delaying and disobeying the Board’s directions to install Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System (CAAQMS)”.
In the five-page show-cause notice, Martins writes, “Take note that failure to satisfactorily reply to the present Notice will compel the Board to initiate stringent legal action against you that will include revocation of the renewed consent to operate order issued to you by the Board, forfeiting of Rs 5 lakh Bank Guarantee as submitted by you to the Board and further issue of directions for suspension of closure of all operations including all cargo handling operations of Berth 5 and 6 without any further notice.”
JSW did not respond to a detailed questionnaire by The Indian Express.