Panaji, Jan 12 (PTI) The Congress party in Goa today demanded that Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari give a written assurance that sentiments of those opposing expansion of coal handling by the state’s ports would be respected.

The party’s Goa spokesperson Yatish Naik said such a written assurance was necessary since the assurances made by state Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar “could not be trusted upon considering his past track record” nor should it be taken as a “guarantee”.

Parrikar had last week said that his government would not allow the expansion of coal handling at Mormugao Port Trust (MPT).

“The assurances and utterances of Parrikar are absolutely meaningless considering his past track record of going back on his word and making U-turns,” Naik told reporters today.

He added that the assurance of the chief minister should not be considered as a “guarantee”.

“Therefore, it is necessary that Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari and Mormugao Port Trust give in writing that they will respect sentiments of the people who are against the expansion of coal handling capacity,” Naik said.

Naik pointed out the Central government’s ambitious “Sagarmala” project seeks to enhance handling of coking coal to 21 million tonnes by 2025 and 40 million tonnes by 2035 at MPT.

“The handling of coal and its proposed expansion at MPT is strongly opposed by the people of Goa, especially those from Vasco, due to the resultant pollution and health hazards,” he said.

He added that in the backdrop of this, it was necessary that Gadkari speak in tandem with the people’s sentiments on the issue.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.