Aam Aadmi Party Vice President Valmiki Naik on Saturday has welcomed the NGT order in which it has halted construction of the Captain of Ports’ (CoP) terminal building in the River Mandovi. Naik, along with late Dr. Joe Dsouza were the complainants in the case.
While addressing the media in Panaji at the project site, Naik stated that the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority, which is responsible for protecting the coastal zone of the state, acted like the Goa Coastal Zone Manipulation Agency in this case. Therefore, the NGT order is a new hope for common people that they have the power to thwart the continuous attempts to destroy Goa’s environment with destructive projects.
He continued, “NGT’s order is only a partial victory. Only a two-month stay has been granted to allow the project proponent to carry out a Rapid Enrivornmental Impact Assessment and comply with the regulations. Our prayer, to completely demolish the construction and restore the environmentally sensitive inter-tidal area to its original condition, has not been met yet. If this building goes through, it will become a precedent and such illegal and destructive constructions within water areas will occur everywhere in Panjim and Goa”.
Naik stated that he was disappointed with a couple of points in the NGT. One point was about the assertion by the committee that no pollution is caused by construction.
“This is not true, and we have ample evidence to back up our claim that the building construction has caused pollution, and will continue to do so if it is completed and occupied”, Naik stated.
The second point was that the NGT said the project is one of public importance”.
“This project has nothing to do with the interests of the general population. Even though it was constructed under the auspices of CoP, the project’s primary goal is to provide further infrastructure for the expansion of casinos. It has been seen that the BJP Govt acts as per the requirement of the powerful casino lobby, spending scarce taxpayer funds to give the lobby undue tax benefits, elaborate infrastructure, and free promotion at tourism expos”, Naik asserted.
Naik stated that he would continue the effort to stop the building construction entirely, and achieve Dr. Joe’s dream to restore the Mandovi River to its original condition.