Thursday, May 06, 2021

Goa CM Sawant slams expats for criticism of government projects

IANS | November 19, 2020 03:48 PM

PANAJI: Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday took on the Goan expat community, over criticism of development projects in forested areas in and around Mollem village in South Goa, saying his government is committed to protecting the state's forest cover and that "outsiders" need not worry about Mollem village.

"Many people are concerned about Mollem and Mhadei (river). They feel we are not worried about it at all. People comment about Mollem from London or other places. We are also worried about Mollem," Sawant told a function held in his home constituency of Sanquelim to inaugurate a government sewage treatment plant.

Mollem village, which is located at the foothills of the Western Ghats and ringed by protected forests, has emerged as a focal point for a popular agitation against three central government projects, namely double tracking of a South Western Railway track, expansion of a National Highway 4A and a private power project. The three projects according to the Opposition and civil society groups, are being executed to facilitate additional transportation of coal through Goa to steel mills in Bellary.

The campaign to #SaveMollem has caught traction on social media with expats from Goa settled in the Gulf region, Europe and US slamming the Goa government severely for not scrapping the three projects. Some weeks back Goans settled in London had held a public demonstration protesting against the proposed deforestation at Mollem.

Over the last two weeks, several BJP MLAs have joined opposition voices against the projects claiming the projects would cause deforestation and increased pollution in Goa.

Sawant, however, slammed "outsiders" for commenting on social media without ascertaining ground reality.
"We do not need outsiders to worry about Mollem," alleging most of the commentary on social media was a product of misinformation.

"Look at the power issues faced by the people in the area (Mollem). Even a single bulb light flickers in their homes with difficulty. They don't even have 24-hour electricity. Those who live in air conditioned homes in towns are complaining about the Tamnar project," Sawant said.

The Goa Tamnar Transmission Project Limited, promoted by Sterlite Power aims to deliver an 400kV power drawn from a power project in Raigarh in Chhattisgarh.
"Goans want power, want electricity to attract industry. If we want more power over the next 10 years, then we need the Tamnar project," Sawant said.

This is not the first time that the ruling disposition has slammed expats for criticising development works in Goa. Ports Minister Michael Lobo in December last year had to apologise for his comments expat Goans, after he accused them of poisoning the minds of local residents and instigating them against development projects in the coastal state.

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