Goa Spotlight follows a coal wagon and exposes rampant coal spillage on the railway tracks at Cansaulim
NAVIN JHA & PRASAD NAIK/THE GOA SPOTLIGHT
VASCO/CANSAULIM: There’s an old saying, “The past cannot be changed. The greatest failure is allowing your mistakes of the past to continue”. Well, it appears that the JSW owned South West Port Limited (SWPL) has not learnt any lesson from the past and have been repeatedly allowing coal spillage along the railway tracks, even today.
For long JSW/ the Adanis and the MPT ( Port authorities) have repeatedly confirmed that spillage on railway tracks leading to coal dust and pollution is a rare aberration and not a common occurrence. For years the battle against coal pollution has fundamentally been against the spillage of coal from trucks and wagons. The Goa Spotlight team, whose journalists have kept a hawk eyed watch on coal pollution through their reporting careers, decided to hit the ground running once again. And see what they found
Moving coal wagons from Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) not only had gaps in the tarpaulin cover over the rakes, but in some rakes the tarpaulin cover over the coal cargo had a tear allowing spillage of coal cargo all along the railway route, thereby putting at risk all those living in the vicinity of the railway tracks.
Subhead -1- This is what actually happened during the reality check on coal spillage
On August 3 : At about 12 noon a railway wagon loaded with coal cargo left from MPT to its destination in Karnataka. The Goa Spotlight team waited at a railway crossing in Velsao village to check whether the tarpaulin cover over the rakes was proper. Surprisingly it was noticed that methods used to cover the coal cargo with tarpaulin was careless, allowing air to pass though the tarpaulin, leaving coal dust to spread out on both the sides of wagons. Spillage of coal was seen more from the third last rake in the wagon due to a big tear in the tarpaulin cover. The wagon moved further and halted near Cansaulim railway station for a green signal to move further.
Since the issue was important and coal pollution all along the railway tracks from this wagon was very high, The Goa Spotlight team decided to confront the railway officials. Our team first decided to meet the railway guard who was present in the brake van cum guard’s van to find out whether he was aware about the coal spillage from the rakes or not. Surprisingly even at the frontage of the brake van a large number of coal cubes spilled all over. When The Goa Spotlightteam questioned him about the spillage, the guard said “Oh, this is not something major it happens during loading and this is a very normal thing”. It is this very normalcy which led to abnormal health problems of those living along the route of coal transportation
What was more shocking was the confession by the jail guard on the issue of spillage. He said “Nothing happens even if there is some tear in tarpaulin cover as spillage is very rare. What spillage you can see below the rake is coal powder and this is very normal as even while applying brakes some amount of powder spills out,” the guard claimed. He also asked our team to ‘complain’ about the spillage to the station manager.
The Goa Spotlight team then rushed to Cansaulim railway station and met station manager Diwakar Achraya and briefed him about what the team saw and how casually the guard reacted on coal spillage. Achraya took a serious note of the spillage of coal due to tear in tarpaulin cover and immediately informed the Margao railway station to take corrective measures.
Subheads-2 – A shocked Cansaulim sarpanch slammed railways for its lax attitude on coal spillage.
Cansaulim Sarpanch Marta Saldanha received a shock after she saw The Goa Spotlight the video in which a railway guard casually replies that some of coal spillage while transporting is unavoidable. Slamming the railway authorities for their lax attitude on coal spillage, Saldanha said “What I saw was bad. This should not happen at all. The statement by the railway guard that only little coal spillage takes place also indicates that if from one rake of one wagon there is so much of coal spillage then imagine the daily spillage from different wagons that pass through our village. Since you have brought this to our notice, we will also start acting on it,” Saldanha said
She further said that “Railway authorities as well as coal handling agencies are taking the pollution issue very lightly. Though they should take such things very seriously but I think they don’t care about environment or about public health. If this continues then we will stop their coal transportation. We will also take up this issue with our MLA Alina Saldanha,” Saldanha told.
Subheads-3- How citizens and environmental activists reacted to Goa Spot Light expose
It is important to note here is that even after facing so much of public outcry over coal pollution, the coal handling agencies as well as Goa state Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has been doing nothing to address this issue. Even in past this same team of reporters while working for another other local daily had highlighted the coal spillage at regular intervals but things never changed on the ground but have become worse, all thanks to GSPCB for turning blind eye towards the issue, leaving the anti-coal activists and other Goans agitated and disappointed.
“The responsibility to prevent coal-dust pollution during coal transportation rests solely with the coal handling agency. Goa Spotlight investigation confirms our claims of criminal negligence and lackadaisical attitude of SWPL/Adani’s in this regard. Reckless coal transportation putting human health and environment at risk cannot be allowed to go on even for a day, and must be stopped forthwith and GPSCB should immediately act on such act of creating pollution by the coal handling agencies,” environmental activist Advocate Savio J F Correia said.
VISHWAJIT’S ‘DIRTY’ ROUTE TO WASHING GMC’S DIRTY LINEN?
Intro: Health dept grants a Rs 70 lakhs a year single tender contract to Ecoclean to wash GMC’s laundry. Documents reveal that order was passed, by health department “although being a single tender”
- Rs 7 crores in 10 years or Rs 70 lakhs annually. This is how much you will pay for GMCs laundry to be cleaned by a single company
- Compare this to the total amount spent on housekeeping and cleaning, which is a mere 9.6 lakhs a year
TEAM THE GOA SPOTLIGHT
PANJIM: Take a deep breath to get some clean facts about GMC’s dirty linen. They will now be washed at a cost of Rs 70 lakhs a year or Rs 7 crores for ten years. All of this money (your money) will be paid to , apparently a favorite company of Health Minister Vishwajit Rane
The powers in the GMCH, obviously under the instructions of the Health minister, have favoured M/s Ecoclean System and Solutions by giving it the work of In-House laundry services at a whopping annual cost of Rs 70 lakhs. This is in all likelihood, higher than the cost of buying bed sheets and bed linen for the Goa Medical college and hospital
Trupti B Manerkar, Under Secretary (Health) while issuing the Administrative Order has admitted the fallacy of the tender. Interestingly, the order signed by Manerkar has mentioned that M/S Ecoclean System and Solutions are given a tender “although being a Single Tender.”
The words “although being a single tender” can clearly be interpreted to mean that this order was passed inspite of there being just one company which pitched for a tender, which clearly should have been an open tender for laundry services. The abnormality of the order is admitted in the draft of the order itself
Earlier the same laundry was run by the GMC with the existing staff with the machinery purchased 15 years back.
The State government while arriving at a figure of Rs 70,00,000 a year annually did not do any market survey. Legislative Assembly Question 20 tabled by MLA Nilesh Cabral asked ‘Whether any market survey was done before preparing the estimate for laundry tender to ascertain market price. The reply tables stated ‘No. However institutional assessment was done based on the expenditure carried out in the previous years’.
Goa needs to know what the jargon ‘institutional assessment’ is. There is no possibility of any “assessment” which points to a Rs 70 lakhs a year or a Rs 6 lakhs a month cost for washing
And we ask what stopped the government from upgrading the existing machinery and employing more staff to man the laundry.
EcoClean is Junior Rane’s favourite
The company seems to be favourite of Junior Rane. EcoClean Systems and Solutions have also been given the contract of housekeeping and cleaning services at GMCH. The same company which was paid Rs 2.71 crore for the year 2016 had its bill raised to Rs 3.94 crore for the year 2017 leaving scope for suspicion.
For housekeeping and cleaning, the company charged Rs 21 lakh in the month of December 2016 but its bill went up to Rs 73 lakh for December 2017. The company which was charging around 21 lakh to 23 lakh monthly in the year 2016 suddenly upped its bill to Rs 78 lakh for the month of November 2017.
ALSO NOTE: (Another firm M/S Veejay Facilities Management Pvt Ltd which has been given contract to look after the housekeeping and cleaning services in the facilities (excluding GMCH) also saw major rise in its bill for the year 2017.
The company which was paid Rs 38.99 lakh for the year 2016 had its bill shooting up to Rs 88.37 lakh for the year 2017. This exponential growth in the Bill is unjustified and needs to be investigated. The same firm had charged Rs28.85 lakh for the year 2015.
The decision to award the single tender for laundry services to EcoClean Systems and Solutions is an apparent violation of the guidelines of Competition Commission of India which has discouraged single bids in order to curb the corruption in the system.
But while in case of the Goa Medical College, Administrative approval and expenditure sanction of the government was given for awarding the work of installation and operation of In-House laundry services for Goa Medical College to M/S Ecoclean systems and solutions at the rate of Rs 11.40 per piece.
Moreover, the contract signed with the company is for ten years, which has eradicated any possibility of retendering the work till the year 2028.
What’s interesting is that the company is entirely Goa based and does not have the experience of working on major contracts. Health Minsiter Vishwajit Rane in his written reply has claimed that the company’s previous experience was undertaking the laundry service with effect from 2011 at Sou. Sushila Danchand Ghodawat Charitable Trust’s Group of Institutions.
This is the only experience the Panjim headquartered company has got under its belt, but still managed to win such a huge contract worth Rs 7 crores for ten years at a stretch
Also as a part of the contract, he will have the prerogative of taking over the functional laundry. The functional laundry equipments existing in the laundry section are handed over to the firm. The machines will be repaired; renovated and new machines will be replaced by the contractor at his own cost.
The issue had figured during the recently held monsoon session of the House during which Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral had tabled the question about the tender.
This is not the last you will hear of the story. But there will rarely be a more visually correct example of money going down the drain. And the Health Minister who only wished to wash GMC’s dirty linen, may find his proverbial dirty linen hung out to dry in public if this scam is inquired into.
The truth spills, but the govt still chills’
Vascokars react with anger at shock after Goa Spotlight exposes rampant coal spoilage in railway tracks
NAVIN JHA/GOA SPOTLIGHT
VASCO: Following Goa Spotlight expose on coal spillage, anti-coal activists and people have demanded stern and immediate action against Coal handling agencies operating at Mormugao Port have also demanded action against those responsible for the menace.
“The attitude of the Coal importers who load the wagons at Mormugao Port and despatch them as well as the railway officials who haul the coal to Karnataka is highly condemnable, considering the impact of this serious violation on the health of the people of Goa & Karnataka,” Member of the very active NHGO, Goa Against Coal (GAC) Edwin Mascarenhas alleged
Another GAC Member Vikram Sharmalkar said “First of all I strongly object to the overloading of the wagons due to which the coal is spilling all along the railway tracks. Besides this the method of covering with tarpaulin and leaving gaps for air to pass through is a big goof up itself”.
“There is nothing full proof and ironically the pollution watchdog ‘ GSPCB’ has become a mere puppet agency with its handlers and bosses in Delhi giving instructions to its Goa team to bend over for industrialists. They (coal handler’s including JSW and Adani) have a ‘care a damn’ attitude towards the people and environment of Goa and this has been proved with The Goa Spotlight expose.
(Read/Watch story here http://thegoaspotlight.com/the-truth-spills/ )
“The investigation highlighted how the coal pollution is spreading in entire Goa and our beautiful villages and other eco sensitive zones. People are suffering with slow poison daily with Coal loaded wagons passing by their houses and this should be stopped immediately,” Sharmalkar added
Vasco based anti-Coal activist Sanjay Redkar said “Transportation of Coal through Road and Railways has become a nuisance to public health. The authorities especially the GSPCB has gone into hibernation mode for reasons best known to them, especially when violations are already done by the Coal handling companies. If the authorities who are supposed to control the air and water pollution, are giving consent to operate, against the opinion of the people, they are playing and compromising with the health of the people. The recent renewal of Consent to operate for handling coal is one of such examples where the consent to operate has been given to study the impact of pollution, making the people as laboratory mice,” he told
Since the issue of Coal spillage is also related to Mormugao Port trust, The Goa Spotlight team made all possible efforts speak to MPT officials, who did not respond.