ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mormugao Port Modernisation

Proceedings of an Environmental Public Hearing

The proposed modernisation and expansion of the Mormugao Port in Goa has drawn widespread criticism for its failure to seriously assess its environmental impact and lack of thought to sustainability and social costs, while raising questions on the ownership claim over the project area itself. A three-day environmental public hearing recorded the concerns and grievances of the numerous stakeholders and civil society members who stand affected by the proposed project.

Commissioned in 1885, Mormugao Port in Goa is one of the oldest ports on the west coast of India and is blessed with a protected open-type natural harbour. Accorded the status of a major port in 1963, it became the leading iron ore exporting port in India with an annual throughput of around 54.50 million metric tonnes (MMT) of iron ore traffic in 2010–11, of which 90% was exported to China (Economic Times 2011), accounting for over a third of the country’s iron ore exports. However the Goa government’s shutdown of mining in mid-2012, later confirmed by the apex court, wiped out about 80% of the port’s cargo volume in one stroke. The port’s fate was a classic example of the risks associated with a port that relies heavily on one commodity for its sustenance (Manoj 2012). Coal was the other major commodity being handled at Mormugao at the time—with 7.2 MMT handled in 2011–12—but the Goa State Pollution Control Board’s (GSPCB) withdrawal of “consent to operate” to open coal handling operations at two berths in September 2012 halved the commodity’s volume (Hindu 2012).

The two body blows triggered a new plan to convert Mormugao Port into a coal hub, and Goa into a coal transportation corridor. The idea found ample support in the controversial “Sagarmala” project of the union government that projected coal/coke handling at Mormugao to touch 49.2 MMT by 2035.1 Goa is witnessing massive surface transport infrastructure creation as part of “port modernisation” and “port-connectivity enhancement.” The focus is clearly on capacity enhancement for coal imports at Mormugao Port and its transportation through Goa into the hinterland in Karnataka.

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Updated On : 7th Dec, 2018
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