Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday accused the Congress of proximity to the Adani Group and JSW Steel, both of whom operate coal handling berths at the state’s only major port in Vasco. Parrikar told media persons here that the government had already opposed expansion of existing coal handling facilities at the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) in Vasco town — where local residents, as well as the Congress, the main opposition party, have complained of coal pollution — but also downplayed the issue of pollution in the port town, claiming it was under control. “The coal licences were given to Adani and JSW. Coal handling has been signed during Congress time. Basically it was approved and signed, MoU was signed before 2012, before I became Chief Minister,” Parrikar said.

“Actually Congress can do anything. They are Ok with Adani, they are OK with JSW… Why they are OK with them, you ask them,” Parrikar said, even as the Congress last week alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government in the state was in league with the coal importer lobby. The issue of coal pollution erupted after the MPT had sought permission from the Union Ministry Environment and Forests for redevelopment and expansion of four berths at the port. Two coal handling companies Adani Ports and the JSW-operated South West Port Limited are already handling coal operations. Coal imported into Goa is expected to be utilised by steel manufacturing units in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, through a road and rail network, which is also under expansion.

Parrikar now maintains that the Goa government has already opposed the expansion plans of the central government-operated Port Trust. The Goa Chief Minister also said that the port facility should focus more on attracting cruise ships rather than importing coal, considering that the state is one of the top beach and nightlife tourism destinations in the country.