Goa CM questions NRIs protesting Central projects in Mollem
Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday questioned the logic of NRIs residing in Russia, Africa and England protesting against the proposed deforestation of reserved forests in the state to make way for three central government projects related to power, rail and road expansion.
Speaking at a government function here on Thursday, Sawant said that the projects were necessary for the state’s development, adding that drawing of a power line through the forested areas in Mollem in South Goa would help create a more broad-based power infrastructure for the state.
“The opposition is coming from (people in) Africa, England and Russia. Those who have not seen Goa or Mollem are now commenting about it from foreign countries. On the other hand, those who stay in Mollem say that if the road is widened, it will be beneficial to them,” Sawant said.
“We want power and water 24×7. We want good transport and road facilities. And at the same time we also need good environment. The government is not keen on destroying the environment. We want to preserve it. if we cut 10 trees, we replant 100 trees. People do not understand this,” Sawant said.
Nearly 50,000 trees located in the Western Ghat region of Goa are slotted for felling for multiple Central government projects, which include expansion of railway lines and highways and drawing of a new high tension power line, spread across the two wildlife reserves, which are two of the biggest protected forests in the state. The projects have already been cleared by the National Wildlife Board in April this year.
Tourism industry stakeholders as well as activists and opposition political parties have opposed the three projections claiming that it would not only have adverse environmental impact on the state, but would also affect eco-tourism activities in Goa. Goa’s sizeable non-resident population has also added to the opposition to these projects via social media.
Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat has also written to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to scrap the three projects, raising environment concerns.