THE High Court of Bombay at Goa has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest to respond to a petition filed by South West Port Limited (SWPL), seeking the court’s intervention. SWPL has pleaded before the court to direct the ministry to allow terminal capacity expansion at the company’s coal (import) and steel (export) berths at the Mormugao port in Goa.
It has informed the court that the ministry must consider minutes of the ministry’s expert appraisal committee, which has cleared the expansion plans.
Previously, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed governments of all coastal states to “submit Coastal Zone Management Plans under the 2011 CRZ notification to the Ministry of Environment and Forests & Climate Change by April 30, 2018”. Goa is yet to approve the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority. The NGT also included the ministry’s suggestions where states were asked “not to grant any environmental clearance for development activity which falls within the permissible area /regulated area” until the coastal management plans come through.
SWPL wants to bring capacity enhancements, which will also involve dredging the seabed by the port, and expand the capacity of the coal berth.
“We are now asking for clarification, as our licence to operate at the port dates back to 2001,” advocate Subodh Kantak, who appeared for SWPL, said. “We are presenting the court with similar projects which are now in progress in Maharashtra.”
The court will hear the matter on Monday. At present, the Goa Pollution Control Board is monitoring coal imports after the state took note of the fact that the company had violated norms in the consent to operate. Last October, The Indian Express had reported findings of its ongoing investigation on transport of coal by railways, road and water across Goa,which showed that coal is being moved at a rate of 25 tonnes per minute, raising concerns over pollution levels.