1) Indication of Shipping minister Nitin Gadkari’s hidden hand in Goa Pollution Control boards U turn clear;
2) Seven months after GSPCB suspended JSW’s coal handling operations on account of causing pollution and excess handling, Goa’s pollution watch dog became a pup and gave consent to operate again
3) Many members of the Board stayed away from the board meeting where the consent to operate was given to JSW again. Chairman Shetgaonkar bullishly pushed this through, apparently under “instructions”
Panjim: Has Goa’s pollution watch dog become a helpless puppy in the hands of the all powerful centre to allow JSW to resume its coal handling operations at the Vasco Port?
Was Godfather Gadkari’s intervention finally needed to, force the Goa Pollution Control Board to do a literal U turn in its stand on not clearing the Consent to Operate to JSW groups M/s South West Port Limited.
These questions haunt as the GSPCB has granted fresh Consent to Operate to JSW group’s M/s South West Port Limited (SWPL) with a monthly capacity of four lakh tons at berth No 5A and 6A, less than seven months after it had suspended the operation for causing severe pollution and for being involved in excess handling of cargo.
According to board insiders, they were dictated through their parent Ministry of Environment and Forests to allow JSW and MPT to handle coal, with some restrictions, if required. Mr Nitin Gadkari’s hidden hand was apparently not so hidden in ensuring this.
“Almost every member of the Board was against taking the decision and hence, many in fact, distanced themselves from attending the Board meeting, held last week of June. It is not just that, even before the members could go through the minutes of the meeting and approve it, the Chairman, approved it,” sources said.
On December 7, the GOA State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) had filed a criminal complaint against Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) and South West Port Ltd (SWPL) for handling coal in excess of consented capacity, under various sections of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, GSPCB had also issued a show-cause notice to SWPL in November, threatening to revoke its ‘consent to operate’ for exceeding the quantity of coal the company was allowed to handle at Mormugao port. JSW has now been given a further two weeks to respond.
On January 8, 2018, the pollution control board revoked the Consent to Operate granted to South West Port Ltd (SWPL), suspending its coal handling facility at Berths number 5A and 6A at Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) with immediate effect.
The pollution control board clearly stated that JSW was involved in handling coal in excess of the permitted amount.
And let’s clearly mark what the board had said then “We have revoked the consent to operate granted to SWPL as they were found to have been operating in violation of the conditions laid down in the Consent to Operate,” GSPCB chairman Ganesh Shetagonkar told reporters after chairing the board meeting.
In February-March, this year, the Board had even objected to Union Ministry of Environment and Forest’s Expert Appraisal Committee’s (EAC) recommendation for grant of Environmental clearance to JSW for its expansion. The GSPCB also pulled up the Mormugao Port Trust for importing coal through mooring dolphins without consent to operate and with no pollution control measures at sea.
Changing tack, the GSPCB’s note, justifying the re-granting of clearing the consent to operate states, “Coal handling is necessary for undertaking the Source Apportionment studies at Mormugao Port Trust (MPT).
He even justified this by reiterating the justification that without coal activities, the Source Apportionment studies cannot be initiated.
Then what is it that made the Board to change its stand overnight. If sources are to be believed, Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari, who is looking at ports as one of the biggest cargo handlers in the days to come, played the role of Godfather for JSW and MPT. MPT, whose cargo handling facilities were under suspension since last one year, will now handle eight lakh tons of coal every month for the current financial year 2018-19.
“ Mr Nitin Gadkari was reportedly not happy with the government’s decision to suspend coal operations at MPT. He had in-fact, repeatedly requested Parrikar to allow coal cargo at the port, which was turned down by the Chief Minister pointing to the fact that there is massive public outcry,” sources said.
When Mr Parrikar was away in the USA for close to three months, the Shipping minister made several trips to Goa, where he met members of the cabinet as well as senior officials which paved the way for this ultimate favour to JSW.
Everyone in the Goa BJP will go home except Rajya Sabha member Vinay Tendulkar- Parsekar
Not a single BJP karyakarta will support Sopte in Mandrem; the BJP is losing support of the bhandaris and Marathas too, says former CM Lakshmikant Parsekar
Mandrem: In a tone tinged with emotion and hurt former Goa Chief Minister, and a senior member of the BJP’s core committee said that if the party continues in this manner, then “everyone (all MLAs) will have to go home”. He sarcastically said that the only one who will be present in a legislative space would be BJP state president Vinay Tendulkar, who has been elected to the Rajya Sabha for 6 years.
Commenting on the larger issues plaguing the party, the former Chief Minister remarked that important sections of the population like the OBCs including the bhandaris and marathas are moving away from the BJP. The support base is shrinking. There is no doubt. If things go on in this manner, then everyone will go home, except Vinay Tendulkar” ( elected to the Rajya Sabha)
It is clear that it’s a no holds barred battle between a section of the veteran leadership in the BJP and party president Vinay Tendulkar. Speaking toThe Goa Spotlight, Mr Parsekar said “Earlier Vinay used to say that he would consult ‘bhai’ before taking any decision. Now ‘bhai’ is not accessible and hence Vinay thinks he can take any decision that he wants”
Meanwhile the by-elections to the Mandrem constituency is due, after Congress MLA Dayanand Sopte resigned to join the BJP and will be the BJP candidate in Mandrem and Parsekar is clear that the local BJP unit will not be supporting him “Sopte said 80% of the BJP’s karyakartas are with him. He is lying. Zero percent are with him. There is not a single BJP worker who is with Sopte”. Elaborating further, he said that the party may have taken a decision to reduce the strength of the Congress and hence get Sopte to resign but they should have consulted local workers and leaders ( like him) before deciding to field him from Mandrem. “Sopte may have been lured to join the BJP but the party should have understood the ground reality of fielding him from Mandrem”, Parsekar quipped
Parsekar’s remarks assume political significance for three reasons a) It confirms that Sopte will not be able to hit the political ground in Mandrem, running and will face opposition not just from the Congress but the local BJP organization. b) Lakshmikant Parsekar is holding his own political cards to his chest and the possibility of him contesting as an independent after resigning from the party, with the support of local BJP workers, cannot be ruled out and c) Parsekar’s vociferous reaction may spark off a chain reaction among senior BJP leaders who will take on the Parrikar and Tendulkar led party leadership, with Francis D Souza already stating that he may be raided for speaking against the party.
Clearly in an attempt to shore up the party’s numbers in the Assembly, both Vinay Tendulkar and Parrikar, either by design or bad politics, may have caused far reaching damage to the party, the results of which will be clear, in the next round of elections.
‘Toilet’ is not a ‘prem katha’ in Goa
Goa is one of India’s worst states in achieving the Open Defecation Free promise
GOA: As the deadline of December 19, 2018 is fast approaching, Goa has to achieve a milestone to rank on the national chart of being free from Open Defecation (ODF). The coastal State, having the lowest population of only 15 lakhs, tops the embarrassing chart of having the lowest ODF coverage in India. With total coverage of only 5.87 percent, the State is the only one in the country where the success rate is less than 10 percent.
What is humiliating is that States like Bihar, Odisha and Tripura are above Goa, where not a single village has been declared as total verified ODF. After being on top of the national chart on various fronts like tourism, Smart City Mission, literacy, etc, the State is far from achieving ODF.
As per 2011 census, the State has nearly 20 percent households without toilet facility. There are also many community toilet facilities that are lacking in the State, which is known as international tourism destination on world map.
As a rough estimate, the government is of the view that it requires at least 65,000 bio-digester toilets, for which Goa Waste Management Corporation (GWMC) has already invited tender.
Kind of toilets to be provided
The toilets, costing Rs 40,000-Rs 45,000 per set, are fitted with bio-digester. Bio-digester toilet technology, perfected by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), is an eco-friendly and maintenance-free system to manage human waste, which is being put to use under the Swachh Bharat Mission movement.
Scheme drafted by State Government
Department of Urban Development has drafted a scheme for supply and installation of Bio-Digester Toilet in the State. “If Goa is to achieve the goal of ODF by the year 2018, then it is essential that the construction of toilets is taken up on a mission mode by providing necessary financial assistance to the poor who are without an Individual Household Latrine (IHHL),” Secretary Urban Development R Menaka said.
Under the scheme, any household not having an individual sanitary toilet will be eligible on submission of documents like Aadhar card and an undertaking that he or she will pay the beneficiary share for the supply and installation of the Bio-Digester toilet in his household.
“No occupant of the household shall resort to open defecation and shall use toilet only for the purpose it is designed for. The occupant will have to pay the entire cost of supply and installation of Bio-digester toilet to government in case of the toilet being not utilized or any occupants of the household resorting to open defecation,” Menaka said.
Urban development has made it mandatory for Certificate from Municipal Council/ /Corporation/Panchayat stating that the household does not have individual household latrine.
The department of urban development and panchayat will finalize the list of eligible applicants under the scheme and communicate the same to the Implementing Agency- GWMC.
Parrikar returns home, on a stretcher & in an ambulance
- Parrikar travelled in an ambulance to his home at Dona Paula.
- GMC has set up medical facility at his personal residence
- Party men and coalition partners were clueless over his early arrival.
GOA: The usual bonhomie that surrounds arrival of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar when arrives back in the State was missing on Sunday, when the BJP leader was moved from AIIMS to Goa on a stretcher and travelled through ambulances.
Parrikar was flown to Goa in a special flight on Sunday afternoon. Two Ambulances equipped with the doctors was part of his carcade that went to receive him at INS Hansa base. The former union defence minister travelled on a stretcher to his home.
India’s news agency Press Trust of India in its report from New Delhi had said that Parrikar’s health had deteriorated at AIIMS last night after which he was shifted to Intensive Care Unit.
He was discharged from the hospital and then flown to Goa.
State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said that Goa Medical College and Hospital has set up facility at Parrikar’s residence at Dona Paula, where his medical needs would be looked after.
The arrival of Parrikar was sudden and unexpected. Rane was seen supervising the arrangements by calling special meeting of the GMC officials last night.
But what is shocking for his party members and coalition partners is unexpected arrival from AIIMS where he had met BJP Core Committee and coalition partners on Friday.
“Parrikar has been always commanding, whatever he decides for himself, he has been deciding. He never listens to his family or his close ones,” BJP Legislator and State Power Minister Cabral told reporters at the airport where he had come to receive Parrikar.
Unlike last two times when he had arrived from the USA wherein he had walked out of the Airport, this time, the ambulance was taken near the special flight to pick him up.
“We hope that he recovers fast and miracle happens. I think it must be his personal decision that he wants to come back to Goa. When I met him last time, he spoke well. It must be his decision to come to Goa,” Cabral said.
Union AYUSH minister Shripad Naik who had met Parrikar along with Cabral at AIIMS on Friday said that he could not believe the news reports that Parrikar was coming back.
“I had met him day before yesterday. I got the news that he is coming back but I can’t believe that he is returning. His health is improving and he was expected stay at AIIMS for few more days,” Naik said talking to reporters in Panaji on Sunday morning at the sidelines of a function.
“It is okay if he takes treatment in Goa but he needs to take rest,” Naik said.
State Civil Supplies Minister and Independent MLA Govind Gawade said that Parrikar should have stayed back at AIIMS for some time and fully recovered before coming back to Goa.
“But we welcome him back. Goa was missing its leader,” he said.