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 1,200-metre 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 20,000-25,000 people participated in the protests, which went on for 14 days. The Karnataka High Court passed an order on January 24, 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
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, District Collector
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Legislations Involved in the Conflict:
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Name(s) of Court(s)
Karnataka High Court
WP No. 1332/2020
Nature of Protest
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
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
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?