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Maka naka. Go! Here’s why Goa’s youth are protesting a ‘development’ project

The people of Goa have always been allergic to any project that so much as hints at damaging the tourist hotspot’s environment. Be it the Konkan Railway more than a quarter century ago or the Regional Plan over a decade ago, they have organised to force a course correction or stop such projects. Now, three development projects cleared by the Union Environment Ministry have Goa’s youth spontaneously rising up in protest against transport of coal despite assurances by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant of the BJP that coal handling will eventually end.

November 30, 2020 / 02:42 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

Sam Nathan is busy. The 26-year-old techie recently shifted to Goa for ‘work from home’ and now feels like the day doesn’t have enough hours for all his activities. He is street dancing, writing scripts and marching into the jungles for midnight protests. “I've never moved beyond the beaches in Goa, but this time it's different, I feel like I’m part of something big” he says.

India's favourite holiday destination is facing a predicament. Should it retain its rustic village look, keeping Goa a haven for city dwellers, or should it take the beaten path of development with bigger roads and a wider network? Opinion remains divided.


At the crux of the matter are three development projects recently approved by the Union Environment Ministry:


  1. Double-tracking of the 120-year-old rail line from Hospet in Karnataka to Vasco

  2. Four-laning of National Highway 4A

  3. Laying of a 400-KV power transmission line

According to reports, these projects are all part of the Sagarmala port development project. Under this scheme, rail and road expansion aims to create a corridor to transport coal to Goa’s Mormugao Port Trust (MPT). The project master plan envisages MPT becoming a coal/coke import hub with a capacity to handle 51 MTPA (metric tonnes per annum) by 2035. This is to cater to the coal/coke demands of steel plants in neighbouring Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant of the ruling BJP has, however, assured the people that the State will reduce coal transmission from MPT to half the current capacity, and even stop coal handling completely in the future, according to news reports.