Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today said those who oppose coal should stop using electricity as there was no alternative to the “environmentally bad” fossil fuel at present. In a veiled attack on state Congress leader Aleixo Reginaldo, the chief minister said those who were against steel produced from coal, should stop using vehicles and constructing houses. “We cannot avoid coal even if we wish so. Coal is bad for environment of Goa, but its use is necessary. What could be the alternative if we shun it (coal)?” he asked. Addressing a gathering of teachers here under the banner of ‘Gomantak Bal Shikshan Parishad’ this evening, Parrikar said protests against coal “go in a wrong way if they are fueled without proper thinking”. “Some sections are opposing coal (but) have no problem with transportation of coal or pollution. When they say they are opposing coal, they should stop using electricity. Eighty five per cent of the country’s electricity is generated from coal,” the chief minister said.
The BJP leader said hydraulic power was also dangerous to environment, and similarly “we do not want nuclear power”. “….So till we get an alternative, we will have to be dependent on coal, or we will have to switch the lights off,” he said. Parrikar slammed Congress Goa spokesman Aleixo Reginaldo, who had claimed that the coal handled at the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) was being used for production of steel and not for electricity generation as claimed by the former.
“There is a person who says that the opposition to coal handling in Goa is because it (coal) is taken (out) to produce steel. If that is the case, he should stop using vehicles (which are made up of steel), do not construct houses as they also need steel,” he said. An agitation was held recently against handling of coal at the MPT. Various political parties had also criticised the state government over the coal facility. Admitting that coal was not good for environment, Parrikar said its usage, however, was unavoidable. “There will be a worst situation if anti-coal protests spread to areas where coal is used to produce power,” he said.
“Pollution is 100 per cent more at places like Corba where electricity is produced. What is important is that you cannot say that you are against coal, you can say that you are against coal pollution,” he said. The MPT has leased out its capacity to the Adani Murmugao Port Terminal Private Limited (AMPTPL) and South West Port Limited (SWPL). While AMPTPL handles about 5.2 million tonnes of coal annually, the SWPL handles 7.2 million tonnes. The Goa Congress had recently passed a resolution opposing the coal production, claiming pollution and health hazard to people.