Fishermen in South Goa oppose degradation of coastal areas of river Sal due to dredging

Reported by

Malavika Neurekar

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

July 21, 2022

July 21, 2022

Updated on

July 21, 2022

Location of Conflict

Cavelossim

Assolna, Ambelim

South Goa

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Environmental/Ecological Damage

Dredging of river bank

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

7

ha

Starting Year

2020

State

Goa

Sector

Land Use

The AVCB Traditional Fishermen Association of South Goa has opposed the alleged dredging work in river Sal. The association comprises fishermen from Assolna, Velim, Chinchinim, Cavelossim and Betul villages lined along the southern part of the river. They have claimed that the dredging work is disturbing the fish breeding ground and threatening their livelihood.

River Sal, originates in the hills of Verna in South Goa and opens into the Arabian Sea at Mobor beach, is one of the most polluted rivers in the state, as per a 2018 order by the National Green Tribunal.

In 2016, the Captain of Ports Department, which is in-charge of all inland waterway activity in the state, had completed Phase I of river Sal desilting between Khareband and the Varca-Telaulim bridge. Based on the 2018 NGT order, the state government announced Phase II of desilting from the Varca-Telaulim bridge to the mouth of the river to reduce pollution.
An official from the Captain of Ports department who spoke to LCW on the condition of anonymity said, “a total of 18 km were planned for Phase II, divided into three phases of 6 km each. The first phase of Phase II was completed in May 2021; while the second one  was completed in April 2022. The third phase, from Ambelim to the mouth of the river, would be taken up soon. The state pollution control board has even granted clearance to the work based on the environment assessment reports prepared by the NIO.”

In December 2020, residents of Codeavado-Chinchinim raised an alarm about the nature of the ongoing work. The presence of a dredger along the river bank had made villagers wary that the Captain of Ports department was deepening the river bed to create new navigation channels, instead of focusing on cleaning the river. In early 2022, similar issues were raised by the AVCB fishermen, whose villages came under the areas marked for the second phase of Phase II. Speaking to LCW, Agostinho Futardo, President of the AVCB Traditional Fishermen Association, said, “Dredging affects fish breeding. This area is a rich breeding ground for prawns, oysters, mussels, and other shellfish. Once you dredge the bed, these species disappear.”

The association has made multiple representations to different state agencies since 2019, some of which have been accessed by LCW. The Association pointed out that the government tender for desilting the river proposed a depth of 3 metres, even while the natural depth of the river is less than that in most places. After meeting with authorities and a joint inspection in January 2021, the Association had agreed to the work being undertaken, provided certain essential conditions were complied with. Chief among these was that the work be restricted to only desilting. However, the community was once again up in arms in February-March 2022 when dredging work resumed. A group of community members and active citizens conducted an inspection of the ongoing work on February 19, 2022. They alleged that the Captain of Ports, despite their demands, had undertaken “unsustainable dredging”, dumping silt along the river banks, which residents believe is choking the adjoining mangrove belt. Subsequent letters from the AVCB Association to authorities reflect similar concerns.
Currently, work has been stalled since the onset of monsoons but the final phase of Phase II, moving southwards towards Mobor, is expected to be taken up in the coming financial year. 

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Opposition against environmental degradation

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

40

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2019

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

Yes

When did it end?

As of April 2022, the 2nd phase of Phase II was completed by the implementing agency. The 3rd phase of Phase II is yet to be undertaken.

Why did the conflict end?

Conflict ended due to any other reason

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011
Paragraph 4.2 [Clearance needed from State Coastal Zone Management Authority under this notification for permissible activities as noted in Annexure-IV] Paragraph 7(v) [CRZ areas of Goa are noted as areas requiring special consideration for protection of critical coastal environment and local communities] Paragraph 8 (V)(3) [State Government of Goa to take various measures for the CRZ of Goa, including notifying fishing villages and carrying out reconstruction and repair works of fishing structures for local communities.] Annexure IV [Dredging noted as an activity which will cause physical changes in the locality]
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Paragraph 7(III) Stage 3(i) (cc) [Dredging listed as an activity that requires a public consultation with local affected persons]
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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:

Violation of environmental laws

Non-consultation with stakeholders

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Captain of Ports, Water Resources Department, Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

An official of the Captain of Ports Department spoke to LCW on condition of anonymity. He said "the work that was undertaken is desilting, not dredging. Different people will always react differently, but we are going as per the NGT order...Earlier, there were no commercial activities on the river. But now, these have increased. So to maintain all types of activities, it [the work] is required."

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Abhishek Naik, propriety owner of M/S Vaibhavi Dredging, offered no substantial comment when asked about the opposition to the work being undertaken.

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

M/S Vaibhavi Dredging (contractor for 2nd phase of Phase II)

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Abhishek Naik, propriety owner of M/S Vaibhavi Dredging, offered no substantial comment when asked about the opposition to the work being undertaken.

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

AVCB Fishermen's Union

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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