Terming the decision of Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to withdraw the consent granted to South West Port Ltd (SWPL) to operate at berths 5A and 6A, as unfortunate, the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) has said that it will have serious ramifications and will result in huge financial loss to the port.
Following the decision in last week, MPT chairman I Jeyakumar has written letter to the chairman of GSPCB requesting him to review the decision and condone the alleged exceedance, as the Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring (CAAQM) readings are within the limits and cumulative port capacity has not been exceeded.
It may be recalled that the GSPCB in its meeting held on January 8, had revoked the consent to operate granted to SWPL, as it was found to have operated in violation of the conditions laid down in the consent to operate.
A copy of the letter has also been sent to secretary to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, wherein it is stated that the port will have no choice but to go for large scale layoff of employees and defer the payments to them which is not desirable from the point of public interest.
“The port has to support 1,750 employees and 4,300 pensioners. The annual outgo on this account is Rs 250 crore. With the stoppage of coal operations at berths 5A and 6A, for the current year, the port will end up with deficit income of Rs 92 crore,” the letter states.
It has been further stated in the letter that from next year, the losses will be in excess of Rs 190 crore. Various ancillary industries, which provide indirect employment will also be adversely affected and there will be a cascading effect.
It has also been stated that MPT has implemented various suggestions, directions given by GSPCB to
maintain the ambient air quality at Vasco from time to time in addition to other voluntary action for prevention of dust pollution including closed conveying systems, in-motion rail loading and 100 per cent covering of all coal cargo, water sprinklers, deployment of mist cannon, road sweepers, etc.
The MPT has said that continuous ambient air readings at various locations at Vasco are within the permissible limits despite large scale construction activities, dust from the unpaved shoulder of roads and emissions from vehicular traffic in the vicinity of CAAQM stations, adding that this was a testimony that pollution control measures are adequately implemented by the port.
In addition, as per the directions of GSPCB, MPT has awarded the work for source apportionment studies to IIT/B for Rs 97 lakh and this study has commenced, it added.
“Historically, coal was being handled at MPT at berths 5, 6, 10 and 11 since 1996. Due to the manual handling of coal during the earlier days, there was pollution and due to this reason, we had taken up construction to two dedicated coal terminals at berth no 6A and 7 on PPP model. Semi-mechanised handling of coal at berths 10 and 11 was also stopped on the direction of GSPCB,” it noted.
The letter also pointed out that due to the decision of GSPCB, it is feared that 12 ships which are on the voyage towards MPT may be diverted; in such an eventuality, the private ports on east coast will be benefitted at the cost of government port, adding that berths 5A and 6A account for 58 per cent of the cargo handled at MPT berths and withdrawal of the Consent to Operate for these berths will result in huge financial loss to the port.
The MPT letter also mentions that the air monitoring data was within the prescribed limits and that the port as well as other stakeholders are making earnest efforts to contain the dust pollution within the prescribed limits.
It has also been pointed out that stipulating quantity for individual berths rather than total capacity is unscientific and misleading. In many reports, GSPCB compares source data with ambient standards which is also misleading the public resulting in misplaced perception among the public at large.
The MPT has stated that revoking the consent to operate citing reasons that the terminal has exceeded the cargo limits was an extreme step taken by GSPCB even though there is no adverse impact on the environment.
Source:: The Navhind Times