Wednesday 24 Apr 2024

Will Aleixo light a candle of hope against coal?

Has to grapple with coal-related issues in his backyard in Nuvem having vowed to fight against them

GUILHERME ALMEIDA | NOVEMBER 21, 2023, 12:19 AM IST
Will Aleixo light  a candle of hope against coal?

File photo of Aleixo Sequeira with a candle as he walked with then Congress leaders alongside thousands of Goans at the historic Chandor midnight protest against coal.

MARGAO


Walking with anti-coal, track 

doubling protesters in Chandor


He was one of the prominent politicians, who walked alongside thousands of Niz Goemkars with a candle in his hand at the historic November 1-2, 2020 midnight Chandor agitation to say no to coal and the track doubling projects.

As the Congress candidate nominated for the Nuvem constituency for the  2022 Assembly polls, Aleixo Sequeira’s must have subscribed to the Congress poll manifesto promising scrapping of the three linear projects, including coal transportation and track doubling projects, if the party returns to power.

Exactly three years later, Sequeira is part of the BJP-led government after his induction into the Cabinet by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Sunday. It’s still unclear whether Sequeira would get the Environment portfolio held by his predecessor Nilesh Cabral in the political scheme of things.

The five-time Nuvem MLA, however, faces an acid test how he would go about the controversial issues centred on coal and coal-related projects, having vowed to fight against coal in the recent past.

Leave alone the three linear projects, the newly-inducted Minister will have to grapple with coal-related issues right in his backyard in Nuvem constituency, be it in the village of Majorda, where villagers have been waging a movement against track doubling or in Loutolim, which has been witnessing strong protests against the construction of the new Jetty at Rassaim or the recent agitation by Loutolim villagers against the new Borim bridge, with villagers suspecting that these projects are executed for coal transportation.

The Goencho Ekvott, which has been spearheading the anti-coal movement along with Goyant Kollso Naka, pointed out that the Nuvem MLA should use his good offices with the government to stop coal and coal related projects since he has found a Cabinet berth in the Pramod Sawant dispensation. Goencho Ekvott convenor Creson Antato, who is a Panch member of the Majorda village Panchayat,  recalled that Aleixo Sequeira had joined the historic Chandor midnight protest along with then Opposition Leader Digambar Kamat when he was in the Congress.

“Since Sequeira is now inducted in the Cabinet, we hope he would put his foot down against coal related projects, and ensure that Goa is coal free”, he said.

Creson added: “AleIxo Sequeira is aware of the road issues faced by the residents of Majorda and Utorda with the South Western Railway claiming that a road which is being used by the residents is claimed by the railways. We hope that the issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the villagers”.

Says Goyant Kollso Naka Co-convenor, Abhijit Prabhudesai: “We do not know whether AleIxo Sequeira still remembers the support he had extended to the anti-coal agitation in 2020. We feel he should stand by the people of Loutolim who are agitating against the construction of the new Borim bridge through the khazan fields”.

Asked whether he see any hope for the activists waging a battle against coal with Aleixo Sequeira inducted in the government, Abhijit shot back, “Our battle to save Goa continues. We hope for the best, but at the same we brace up to face the worst”.

 

Opposition to controversial

Rassaim jetty project


Rassaim Jetty: On September 4, 2022, Loutolim villagers erupted in huge protest as they gave a thumbs down to the controversial Jetty project at Rassaim, asserting the jetty project is not proposed to develop tourism, but is intended for the transportation of coal under the Sagarmala project.

Armed with placards and banners, the villagers took out an impressive rally in the village before culminating at the Loutolim Panchayat ghar for the extra-ordinary gram sabha meeting, demanding in one voice the revocation of the NOC issued by the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) for the project.

The villagers made it clear that they had opposed the controversial jetty in 2017 and have done it again in 2022, warning that they will take to the streets if the government does not pay heed to their demand for the scrapping of the project.


Seeking solution to land

aquisition for Borim bridge


New Borim bridge: October 29, 2023 saw the Loutolim villagers taking to the streets again, this time to oppose the land acquisition for the proposed new Borim bridge. Reason: They strongly suspected that the new Borim bridge is being proposed through the village khazan fields in order to connect the bridge to the Mormugao Port for the transportation of coal.

At the extra-ordinary gram sabha, the villagers unanimously rejected the land acquisition proposal at the extra-ordinary gram sabha meeting held on Sunday, saying the alignment finalized by the National Highways is part of the plan to connect the Borim bridge to the Mormugao Port to facilitate coal transportation.

They substantiated their claims by pointing to a letter written by the PWD Chief Engineer, seeking completion of the  bridge on priority in order to connect the bridge to the Mormugao Port.

Sequeira is aware of the agitation brewing in Loutolim village over the land acquisition for the new Borim bridge. Last week, the Nuvem MLA had an interaction with farmers at his residence, promising to seek an appointment with the PWD Principal Chief Engineer to find out an amicable solution.

After his induction was cleared by the BJP leadership on Sunday, Sequeira had said that he would take up the issue with the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to work out a solution to the controversial land acquisition.


Objections to plant at

Verna industrial estate


Waste management plant: Villagers of Nuvem constituency, including Nuvem, have been vehemently objecting to the waste management plant proposed at the Verna industrial estate. Time and again, the villagers have registered their opposition to the waste management plant, claiming that the same will pollute the environment and contaminate the water bodies.

In fact, the gram sabhas of Loutolim, Nuvem, Verna and others had in the recent past opposed the proposed waste treatment plant at the Verna Industrial estate.

The Goan understands that the proposed Waste Management plant on the Verna-Loutolim plateau is awaiting Environmental Clearance (EC), with officials in the know saying the project will be executed once the plant gets the Environmental Clearance.


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