THE expert appraisal committee (EAC) has recommended the proposed terminal capacity enhancement of berth 5 and 6 of Mormugao Port Trust, operated by South West Port Limited, for grant of environmental and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance, provided it complies with 21 conditions.
The conditions include a continuous monitoring programme of the entire expansion and its impact on the coastal environment by a competent organisation, and complying with all commitments made to the people of Goa in “letter and spirit”.
The deliberations were done on a meeting of expert appraisal committee (Infra-2) held on December 14 and 15, 2017, after the committee had sought additional information from the project proponents.
The minutes of the meeting, according to the Ministry of Environment’s website, reads that the committee deliberated upon the information given by South West Port Limited, where the company informed the panel of measures taken to control pollution from coal dust.
In October, The Indian Express had reported that 12.75 million tonnes of coal were unloaded at MPT in 2016-17 and carried across the state to power stations and refineries in Karnataka and beyond. Road, rail and river routes were used, threatening entire villages and towns, the coal dust blackening lungs and threatening fragile forests, paddy fields, countless streams and rivers, a tiger corridor and at least two sanctuaries, the report stated.
Among its conditions, EAC has directed that construction of the proposed enhancement will have to follow provisions of the CRZ notification of 2011, and that the corporate and the port authorities will have to fulfil the conditions specified by the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority, which has outlined new coal operating limits for the berths. To ensure that the environment is not damaged, the EAC recommendations include points regarding dredging. The committee stated that the shoreline should not be disturbed and dredging be stopped during fish breeding season. It should also be done away from creeks and rivers, the panel recommended.
“While carrying out dredging, an independent monitoring shall be carried out by (a) government agency/institute to check the impact, and necessary measures shall be taken on priority basis if any adverse impact is observed,” the recommendations read.
Before the project starts, a copy of the marine and riparian biodiversity management plan, validated by the State Biodiversity Board, needs to be submitted.
Another condition stipulates monitoring of marine ecology — a point, many experts said, was the biggest concern.