Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday sought to allay fears surrounding a railway track-doubling project that is facing opposition, saying that environment will not be damaged during its implementation.
He also launched a veiled attack on the people opposing the project and said there was no scope for “negative, divisive and anti-national forces” in the state.
He was addressing a state-level Goa Liberation Day anniversary function here, hours after some protesters blocked a railway line in a South Goa village to oppose the track- doubling project.
“Goans are always happy, positive and optimistic in their approach towards life. There is no scope for negative, divisive and anti-national forces in the state, which is the ultimate truth. It has been proved time and again in the state,” he said.
“I take full responsibility of preserving the environment while implementing development projects in the state,” Sawant added.
Several protesters blocked the railway track at Arossim village in the early hours of Saturday against the track-doubling project of South Western Railway, saying that the move was aimed at facilitating private companies to transport coal. They said that the government was allowing the state to be turned into a coal hub.
Several NGOs and political parties have been opposing the project claiming that it is being done by cutting trees in Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and the National Park to help the coal handling companies transport the raw material from Mormugao Port Trust to their plants in Karnataka.
During the function, Sawant further said that the state government helped the citizens during Covid-19 pandemic by providing essential services, health care facilities to them, besides assisting farmers and conducting school examination, among other things.
“The sincere attempts of the state government were acknowledged by the people, which was reflected in the results of the recently-held Zilla Panchayat elections (where BJP won most of the seats),” he said.
The chief minister said the government has embarked on a mission to make Goa self-sustainable through its flagship ‘Swayampurna Goa’ programme.
He acknowledged the contribution of freedom fighters, health workers and frontline Covid-19 warriors during the speech.
Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, Goa Legislative Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar were present for the event.