Several people squatted on a railway line at Arossim village in South Goa for a few hours to protest against the proposed train track-doubling project, which they said was aimed at facilitating private companies to transport coal, police said on Saturday. The agitation, which started around Friday midnight, continued for a few hours before the police convinced the protesters to clear the way, they said.
The protest was held under the banner of Goyank Kollso Naka (No Coal in Goa). The agitation was organised on the 60th anniversary of Goa's liberation from Portuguese rule that is being celebrated on Saturday.
Various NGOs and opposition parties in the state have been agitating against the three proposed projects- railway track doubling, a highway expansion and a new power transmission line- all between Goa and Karnataka. The protesters, who blocked the railway track at Arossim village, around 30 kms away from here, demanded that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announce that the track-doubling project of South Western Railway has been dropped.
Talking to reporters, Sheldon Monteiro, one of the protesters, said, "It is shameful that people have to gather on the railway tracks on the eve of the Goa Liberation Day to save the state from being turned into a coal hub." "The people of Goa are against the government's policies of allowing the state to be turned into coal hub. The CM should respect the sentiments of people," he said.
A police official said, "Several people blocked the railway track from Friday midnight as a mark of protest. But we managed to remove the protesters from the site within a few hours." Several NGOs and political parties have been opposing the track-doubling 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.