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Shouldn’t Goans have a say in Goa’s Governance? Kejriwal asks Sawant

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, Nov 13: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lent his support to the ongoing 'Save Mollem' campaign and urged his Goan counterpart Pramod Sawant to stand with Goans and take steps to save Mollem National Park. The Delhi Chief Minister prompted Pramod Sawant to 'listen to the voice of people of Goa' and to not give-in to the pressure of the Central Govt who is 'forcing the project on Goa.'

Shouldn’t Goans have a say in Goa’s Governance? Kejriwal asks Sawant

For months, the people of Goa have been protesting against the railway track doubling project to expand the coal-carrying capacity of the railway line from Goa's Mormugao Port, which will convert Goa into a coal hub. Along with this, a slew of projects has been initiated in Goa, including ,highway expansion, and power line that will include the destruction of Mollem National Park in South Goa.

Soon after CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted in support of the #SaveMollem movement, Pramod Sawant replied to the Delhi CM, saying that he did not need his advice on the matter and that the Govt of Goa is deeply concerned about the environment. Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted, "It is heartening to hear that @DrPramodPSawant Ji. Goans are opposing the double-tracking project. Kindly hear their voice n #savemollem as they are lungs of Goa. I understand the Centre is forcing this project on Goa. Pl stand wid Goans, say NO to Centre n save Goa from becoming coal hub."

South Western Railway's track doubling project would lead to the cutting down of more than 50,000 trees in the reserved forests in and around Mollem village in South Goa. Moreover, all the projects including the railway doubling project, which were approved at a swift pace, will pave for the coal industry to become the primary industry of Goa instead of tourism, which has been opposed by various civil society members, activists, and tourism stakeholders.

The argument carried on with Goa CM Pramod Sawant tweeting, "Dear @ArvindKejriwal Ji, doubling of railway tracks is a nation-building exercise. There is no threat to Mollem and we will ensure it remains that way. We will not allow Goa to become a coal hub. Knowing your expertise in creating Centre vs State issues, we will skip your advice,"

Responding to the Goa CM, Arvind Kejriwal said, "@DrPramodPSawant Ji, you don't need to listen to my advice but please listen to the voices of Goans. Shouldn't Goans have some say in their own state? Is Central diktat more important than Goan voices?"

The railway track which will connect the steel and power plants in Karnataka to the Mormugao port in Goa has been experiencing stark opposition from Goans across South Goa as well as Karnataka. The project is deemed to benefit corporates, private entities, multinationals and will create environmental issues and exploitation of the local people of Goa.

The Save Mollem campaign launched a sharp attack on the CM asking him to respond to Goan Voices with the same swiftness that he responded to Kejriwal with. "Please go ahead and skip Kejriwal ji's advice. What about the 150 Scientists, 400+Medical students, 300+ College Students,150+ Tourism Stakeholders,153 Small-business Owners,100+ Veterinarians, Project Affected Citizens, Travel Tourism Association of Goa and 100+ Teachers?"

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