Environmentalists in Goa are upbeat once again. Not only has the pro-Konkan railway Ravi Naik had to step down as chief minister, but his successor is none other than Wilfred D'Souza, who has been advocating realigning of the railway route.
Just before the crucial meeting of the chief ministers of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa with the Konkan Railway Corporation (KRC), D'Souza told Down To Earth: "I will not allow the present coastal route. No Goan is opposed to the Konkan railway, but we all want it aligned further inland." Not long ago, D'Souza, then deputy chief minister in Naik's cabinet, had said the line was "for the benefit of Maharashtra and Karnataka, and Goa was only being used as a corridor".
Says a prominent Goan who was a member of a committee appointed last year to look into the realignment issue, "Now that D'Souza heads the state government, he will have to deliver."
The case for realignment has been bolstered by the recent appraisal report of the Trivandrum-based National Transportation Centre, which says the route should be shifted inland not only because it is environmentally desirable, but also because it is sound economics. The route says the inland route will cost only Rs 70 crore, against Rs 148 crore for the coastal one.
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