Thursday 21 Jan 2021

MPT letter reveals hidden truth: Coal & double-tracking link

Cites non-completion of track-doubling in Goa as reason for dropping the projects from the Port Master Plan


The Mormugao Port Trust’s (MPT) recent proposal to drop four projects from the Port Master Plan has revealed that two coal-related projects are not feasible in the near future due to delayed SWR double-tracking works, thereby establishing a link between coal handling capacity expansion and the SWR double-tracking work.

Details of MPT’s proposal to drop four projects had been made in a letter written by MPT Deputy Chairman Guruprasad Rai to the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Shipping on October 13, a copy of which is available with The Goan.

In the letter, the MPT Dy Chairman stated that the “Mormugao Port Master Plan prepared in 2016 has listed various projects for implementation. However, certain projects are found not feasible to be taken up in the near future."

The letter goes on to add that the issue was discussed during the review meeting held with the Secretary (Shipping) on October 1 to review the progress of works under NIP and Port Master Plan.

The MPT proposed to drop four projects listed under the Port Master Plan and cited reasons for this decision.

Incidentally, two of the four projects are related to expansion of coal handling capacity, ‘Deepening of Approach Channel and turning circle to facilitate berthing of Capesize vessels’ and ‘Outer Harbour for Coal/Iron Ore Terminal’.

The MPT’s letter confirms that one of the reasons to propose dropping the project to deepen the Approach channel and turning circle to facilitate berthing of Capesize vessels was a “delay in issuing CRZ and EC clearance for capacity enhancement for coal handling at Berth 6”, while the another reason cited was “non-completion of SWR doubling works.’

Regarding the second project for a coal/iron ore terminal at Outer Harbour, the MPT also admitted that one of the reasons to propose dropping the project was a “dependence on railway doubling, which is much delayed”.

“The letter throws up some very interesting facts. Actually, MPT has let the cat out of the bag and confirms the direct nexus between coal handling capacity expansion at MPT and the SWR double-tracking work,” said Vasco-based anti-coal pollution activist Sherwyn Correia.

“Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral had recently stated that the MPT had written to the Union Shipping Ministry proposing to drop four projects under Sagarmala.”

“In case of the first project on ‘Deepening of Approach channel and turning circle to facilitate berthing of Capesize vessels’, MPT’s EIA Report placed before the public hearing in April 2017 spoke of enhancing coal handling capacity and clearly stated that import of coal through Capesize vessels, as against Panamax vessels currently being used, would result in freight advantage to MPT,” said Correia.

“The MPT letter itself states in the first para that “certain projects are not found feasible in the near future. If SWR double-tracking is completed and other obstacles (non-availability of funding) are overcome, the projects could be revived in the future,” said Correia.

Commenting on the two other projects proposed to be dropped by the MPT, Correia said the third project was proposed by the Navy, and was withdrawn by the Navy itself, and has no nexus with coal handling.

“The fourth project is the ‘Multipurpose Terminal’ at Betul. The reason is “non-availability of land by State Government”. If the required land is made available in future, the project can be revived,” claimed Correia.

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