Posted on February 16, 2016
Goenchea Ramponkarancho Ekvott (GRE) has slammed the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for haphazardly approving the dredging of the MPT navigation channel. It has alleged that the MPT is acting highhandedly by not taking the State authorities into consideration or consulting the traditional fishermen and their associations/unions.
GRE has demanded that the government immediately stop the dredging work, failing which the fishermen and their families from across Goa would take to the streets. It has claimed that the dredging will affect Vasco and the adjoining villages, while the fishermen who live near the coast will be displaced.
“The Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) has already cautioned that there is a need to carry out proper and detailed studies with regard to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project. In the EIA report of WAPCOS Limited, there is no information pertaining to the condition of the existing channel in the form of echo-sounding profile. Even the geophysical work is not presented, while the cross-sectional depth profiles are not available for understanding the sea floor morphology of the shipping lane. Also, there is no data available on the bore holes and the analysis of the sediments requires review,” said Olencio Simoes, GRE joint general secretary.
He further said that the MPT intended to dredge and deepen the navigation channel by five meters, which would lead to drastic morphological changes within the estuary and also to washing off the entire area of Sancoale and Chicalim bay.
“The navigation channel is sought to be deepened to 19.8 mts – an increase of five metres in just one attempt. It is this sudden increase in the channel depth that will induce drastic morphological changes within the estuary,” said Simoes.
He continued, “MPT has proposed to deepen the navigation channel to allow larger ships into the port. The present shipping channel is about 6 km long and 250 mts wide. The channel will be dredged and deepened to 19.5 – 19.8 meters over the entire distance of 10 km. A total of 15 million cubic mts of sediment is expected to be removed. As a result, the stability of the sea cliff/headland will collapse. Additionally, to maintain the navigation channel, more dredging works will be carried out annually and 6 million cubic mts will be dredged each year.”
GRE president Agnelo Rodrigues has questioned whether the Centre knows how the people of Vasco and fishermen are living given the gross irregularity done by MPT. He claimed that 42 percent of the country’s coast had already been washed away and the culprits were unplanned ports/harbors, and the same had been documented by the National Institute of Port Management.
Rodrigues added that that in 2004, around 1,214.75 kms of the 5,422.6 km coastline (as measured by the NHO) was affected by sea erosion. He further said, “Now it has gone up to 1,624.435 km according to the latest information available with the CPDAC. Every year, we are losing the coast in Goa. Instead to working to protect it, sadly, the government is doing the opposite.”
“An example is Pondicherry, which built a new deep-water port. Due to this, the town’s beautiful beach disappeared and fishing villages fell into the sea, while the town’s famous promenade began subsiding. All this was due to unplanned expansion of the port and dredging,” said Rodrigues.