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

Reported by

Krithika ALand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

November 5, 2020

Location of Conflict

Karwar

,

Baithkol

Uttara Kannada

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Port

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

547

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

ha

State

Karnataka

Sector

Infrastructure

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.

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

1993.54

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

ha

Starting Year

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, District Collector

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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