Jaigad: Union shipping minister Nitin Gadkari today alleged a stop-work order from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) last year on a dredging project at the Mormugao Port in Goa has resulted in a loss of Rs 250 crore to the exchequer.
“The NGT judge had stopped the dredging work at the Mormugao port, leading to a financial setback worth Rs 250 crore,” Gadkari said at a JSW Infrastructure event here.
He said the Centre wants to make the Mormugao Port as the first facility with an 18 metre draft in the country, but the judicial intervention ensured it did not happen. The 18 metre draft would have helped handle very large vessels.
“But I am very happy that Jaigad Port operated by JSW Group, has become the first harbour in the country to have an 18 meter draft. We could have also succeeded in making similar draft in Goa, had it not been for NGT,” Gadkari said.
Gadkari said the judicial intervention has also resulted in the contractor leaving the work midway and rued that a re-tendering will have to be done, which will result in a loss of Rs 250 crore.
Mormugao Port began capital dredging in late 2015 to facilitate entry of capesize vessels, for which the channel needs to be deepened from the existing 14.5 m to 19.5 m at an estimated cost of 301 crore.
But an organisation called Old Cross Fishing Canoe Owners Cooperative Society challenged the green clearance for the dredging, alleging that the activity caused severe damages to the ecology and its continuation will only worsen the degradation.
Following this in June 2016, the green body ordered a stop-work and asked the port trust to deposit Rs 50 crore forthwith.
“Let’s all hail the environmentalists,” the minister said in a sarcastic way today. But the minister was quick to say that he is sensitive to environmental concerns. But such sensitivities have to go hand-in-hand with the developmental needs, he added.
“We are also sensitive towards environment, but how will the country move ahead if there’s no employment generation?” Gadkari said, adding unemployment is the biggest issue in the coastal Konkan belt.
Reiterating that his ministry has convinced financiers to make money available at 2 per cent against the dollar incomes of ports, Gadkari said JNPT has been asked to prepare a plan to invest Rs 10,000 crore to develop inland waterways in Maharashtra.