Fisherfolk in Karnataka Oppose Karwar Port Expansion, High Court Issues Stay Order

Reported by

Krithika ALand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

June 10, 2021

Location of Conflict



Uttara Kannada

Reason or Cause of Conflict




People Affected by Conflict


Land Area Affected (in Hectares)


Starting Year






The Karwar Port authorities in Uttar Kannada district started seeking permission from the government for expansion from April 2017. The second stage development of the commercial Karwar Port is proposed in Baithkol village. The expansion, which would require 114 fisherfolk families to be relocated, is being sought near a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area. The fisherfolk in the area are apprehensive that the expansion of the port will affect their livelihood; they have already lost their land and beaches to a naval base that was built there earlier. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change gave the Terms of Reference to the port in October 2017. After the Environment Impact Assessment report was published the same month, a public hearing was conducted in February 2018, in which fisherfolk from the area opposed the project. Despite this, the Karnataka State Environment Impact Assessment Authority granted the environmental clearance to the project in January 2019. The Centre for Policy Researchs Environmental Justice Programme (EJP) initially helped the fisherfolk to understand the existing legal hooks in the case and to approach the administrative agencies. They also wrote letters to the authorities pointing out the inadequacies in the environmental clearance. Apart from the port, there are other projects going on in the area, including the Konkan railway line till the Karwar Port. These projects in totality will have a bigger impact; therefore, a cumulative environmental impact assessment should be done, Mahabaleshwar Hegde, senior programme manager at the EJP, says in a video. The port authorities had proceeded to construct a road on the beach without obtaining the consent of the Pollution Control Board as mandated in the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. This was also a condition in the environmental clearance. Even though an order was given by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to stop the work, the port authorities continued the road construction. The Karnataka High Court was then approached by Baithkol Bandaru Nirashritara Yantrika Dhoni Meenugarara Sahakara Sangha, an association formed in the 1960s to protest against land acquisition in the area without proper resettlement. On January 14, 2020, hundreds of workers in the fish market gathered together and urged the government to not destroy their livelihood with the port expansion. They called for Karwar bandh on January 16. A massive protest started two days later with the beginning of construction work for the 1,200metre breakwater (Breakwaters are structures created in the sea to shelter vessels from waves and currents. Building breakwaters usually has adverse impacts on the coasts by increasing erosion and changing the coastline). Around 20,00025,000 people participated in the protests, which went on for 14 days. The Karnataka High Court passed an order on January 24, 2020 staying the expansion of the port until further orders. It also asked the port authorities to restore the beach to its original condition. While the protests have ended and the port authorities have removed the construction material from the beach, the matter is still pending in court. Meanwhile, the fisherfolk have demanded that the current environmental clearance be revoked.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations, Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

To stop the port expansion, loss of livelihood

Region Classification


Type of Land


Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):


Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation


Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Environmental Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. Environment Protection Rules, 1986

    Rule 5(3): Central government can give notice to prohibit restrictions on processes and operations

  2. Environmental Impact Assessment, 2006

    Section 7: Mentions public consultation as the third stage in the clearance process

  3. The Coastal Regulation Zone Regulation, 2011

    Section 7(B)(v): Outlines Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area

  4. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

    Section 25: Restrictions on new outlets and new discharges

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Forced evictions/ Dispossession of Land, Lack of legal protection over land rights, Violation of environmental laws

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court


Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Karnataka High Court

Case Number

WP No. 1332/2020

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:


Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Police arrested protesters who had gathered to oppose the expansion of Kawar port.

Date of Violation

January 16, 2020

Location of Violation


Nature of Protest


Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, District Collector

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?


Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?


Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Krithika A

Reviewed By

Krithika A

Updated By

Krithika A

Edited By

Krithika ALand Conflict Watch

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