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Goa oppn MLAs wear black armbands, demand discussion on coal transport

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Panaji, Jan 25 (IANS) Goa opposition MLAs wore black armbands and raised black placards on the inaugural day of the state legislative assembly, amid fears of increased coal transportation through Goa.

Immediately after Goa Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari delivered his inaugural address, Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat slammed the state government for convening a five-day session, saying the coastal state was plagued with “burning issues” and demanded that the tenure of the session be extended to 20 days.

“At the recent business advisory committee meeting, we had demanded a full fledged session. Last year, the Assembly was in session for only seven days. We should have this session for at least 20 days,” Kamat said.

Another opposition MLA former Deputy Chief Minister and Goa Forward party president Vijai Sardesai said that the first agenda to be discussed in the Assembly had to be related to the coal issue.

“Discuss coal first before any other topic. We hoped that the governor’s speech would have a mention of coal in it, but there was nothing,” Sardesai said.

Opposition MLAs, who wore black armbands during the Governor’s speech, also held black banners which read ‘Save Goa for our future generations’ as Koshyari was escorted out of the Assembly hall after his speech.

The coal issue has gripped Goa over the last few months, with the opposition — across party lines — and civil society groups opposing three central government-backed projects in protected forest areas, which they claim would facilitate increased transportation of coal from Goa’s Mormugao port to steel mills in Karnataka’s Bellary district.

The three central government projects are related to road and rail track expansion and setting up of a power transmission line from Karnataka to Goa.

–IANS

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