Panaji, Feb 19 (IANS) The South Western Railway’s track doubling project will be a game-changer for Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Thursday, even as protests against the inter-state project continued.
Interacting with reporters in Margao town in South Goa district, he also said that the doubling of tracks from Castle Rock railway station in Karnataka to the Tinai ghat railway station in Goa, was not being carried out to facilitate transportation of coal, contrary to popular perception.
“The South Western Railway (SWR) double tracking is not for coal transportation. It is for passengers and tourism,” Sawant said.
“Yes, coal is being transported along the track for now, but we are looking to minimise it and use technology for reducing pollution. It will be a game changer,” he added.
Sawant also said that he would be chairing a meeting of state government and SWR officials, to iron out pending issues related to the project next week.
Nearly 50,000 trees in the Western Ghats region of Goa are slotted for felling to facilitate three projects, including the rail track expansion, spread across the protected forests in and around Mollem village.
Opposition parties, as well as civil society groups and tourism stakeholders bodies, have expressed apprehension that the projects were being pushed at an “express pace” to facilitate movement of coal imported through the Mormugao Port Trust facility in Goa to steel mills in Karnataka’s Bellary district and nearby areas.