Goa Cong takes railway tracks doubling protest to K’taka

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The Congress in Goa on Tuesday escalated its protest against the ongoing expansion of the South Western Railway (SWR) track in the coastal state, by staging a dharna outside the railway division’s zonal headquarters in Hubbali district in Karnataka.

Top Congress leaders including state party president Girish Chodankar and Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat also submitted a memorandum to the railway zonal authority, while also demanding the scrapping of the project, which the Opposition parties allege, will be used to transport more quantum of coal from the Mormugao Port Trust in South Goa to steel factories in Karnataka’s Bellary district.

“We came here to request the South Western Railways to scrap the track doubling. We also came to Hubbali to convey the sentiment of Goa regarding the project. The people of the state are boiling in anger, ” Kamat told reporters.

“Goa is smaller than a district of Karnataka and Maharashtra. It is a state of beaches, mountains, rivers. Tourists come to Goa to enjoy and relax. They do not want to come to Goa to see coal, ” Kamat said.

The rail track doubling project from Castle Rock railway station in Karnataka to the Tinai ghat station in Goa is one of the three projects being opposed by Opposition parties and civil society groups, claiming the projects would lead to the axing of nearly 50, 000 trees in the reserved forests in and around Mollem village in South Goa.

The opposition to the projects also stems from the belief, that the doubling tracking of railway tracks and expansion of the National Highway 4 would lead to increased transportation of coal imported to the Mormugao Port Trust in South Goa to steel mills in Karnataka’s Bellary region.

Kamat said that all opposition parties in unison would oppose the projects, which he said were detrimental to the interests of Goa.

“There is no need for a second railway track at the cost of destroying environment, as well as increasing pollution which will be caused by increased movement of coal, ” Kamat said.The state’s only major port at Mormugao currently imports between 12-15 million tons of coal, most of which is transported to Karnataka by road and rail.

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