THE Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) will no longer handle coal in the city’s Haji Bunder area spread across 25 acres. In a submission to the Bombay High Court, the MbPT has categorically said it has issued notices to coal assignees and that over 50,000 metric tonnes of coal have already been removed.
The MbPT, through an affidavit, revealed that based on a directive by the Union Ministry of Shipping to the Indian Ports Association, a consultancy group was hired to carry out a study of India’s major ports. One of the study’s eight recommendations for MbPT was that coal handling is not economically viable for MbPT.
The port at Dharamtar, the HC was informed, has already started functioning and has handled four vessels discharging about 2,25,000 tonnes of coal cargo.
MbPT counsel Vishal Talsania made this submission in relation to a public interest litigation filed by Aam Aadmi Party activist Meera Sanyal and Vice Admiral (retd) I C Rao. They had raised concerns over the trust’s “negligence” in handling coal, leading to environmental and health threats in the southern part of Mumbai.
Talsania submitted that MbPT had issued eight notices to the owners and said the process of coal removal was on. An affidavit tendered in court says that on September 2015, there was 122,710 metric tonnes of coal lying at the storage facilities of MbPT. However, 51,865 metric tonnes of coal have been lifted.
Referring to a report in The Indian Express on particulate matter, Justices V M Kanade and Revati Mohite Dere remarked that Mumbai’s air quality was deteriorating. “Dust is the major contributor. Quality of air in Mumbai has also reached dangerous levels. We don’t know if the authorities are serious about the problem,” the court said.
In October last year, the trust had informed that it would discontinue the handling of coal. However, the petitioners argued that the decision was not implemented.
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