"Goans don't want coal! Wake up, Goans!"
The slogans echoed in the streets of Goa as over 5000 protestors gathered at the South Western Railway Line, near the level crossing at Chandor around 11 pm on Sunday and continued the protest till 5 am on Monday.
The protestors, of Goyant Kolso Naka (Goa refuses coals) movement,opposed the three projects asserting the adverse environmental impacts as well as the major concern of eco-tourism activities in the state.
The protest is to save the Western Ghats against three linear development projects, which expand the existing NH4A, double track of an old rail line from Karnataka's Hospet to Vasco and 400-kV power transmission line. These projects are initiated through the forest areas of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mollem National Park, both forest zones in South Goa
Goans took to the streets as last resort when the authorities did not pay heed to mounting requests and concerns over the infrastructure projects being passed through Goa's protected regions.
See a local protestor reacting to the illegal mining
Earlier in June, the Goa Foundation filed a petition which alleged "the approvals have been granted without proper consideration and examination of the proposals and studies submitted. The environmental impact assessments of the projects, wherever done, have been shoddily carried out, with little or no proper evaluation on the impact on the wildlife habitat, including its biodiversity".
It also added that these projects contradict public policy and violates the decree of Article 48A of the Constitution and the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
"Goa is a small state, and these development projects do not benefit Goans. It only benefits those in power. Coal fossil is not a future fuel, and it creates a lot of dust. We see sinister motives behind coal offloading for Karnataka through Mormugao Port.If the government aims at national development, then it cannot forget the people," says Oliver Esa, a native of Goa.
According to data inferred by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the role of forests and trees are very essential for sustainable food production and mitigating climate change. Global distribution of forests showed India occupies 1.8 percent of world's forest (72 million hectares) among the ten countries with the largest forest area.