Goan Fishermen Oppose Port Expansion in Vasco da Gama

Reported by

Nihar GokhaleLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

January 21, 2021

Location of Conflict

Vasco da Gama

South Goa

Reason or Cause of Conflict




People Affected by Conflict


Land Area Affected (in Hectares)



Starting Year






Mormugao Port Trust, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Shipping, has proposed to build new berths and jetties and expand in the Vasco Bay, a water body in the town of Vasco da Gama, Goa. The project entails building concrete structures covering half the bay and roads and pipelines partly covering the southern end of the bay. Earlier in 2016, the National Green Tribunal had stalled the expansion project saying that the environmental clearance was illegal as it was done without following procedures and holding a public hearing. People have been opposing the project since it was re-announced in 2018, particularly traditional fishermen who operate out of the bay. According to the fishermen, who use small motorised canoes, the structures will block their access to the sea, while the proposed deepening of the bay, to accommodate cargo vessels, will raise the risk of erosion of the land surrounding the bay. This includes the Kharewado beach, which anchors the canoes and is used by fishermen to store fishing material. Custodia Dsouza, a fisherman representing the Old Cross Fishing and Canoe Owners Cooperative Society, said, If the beach ceases to exist, we will lose our way of life and our source of livelihood.  The fishermen, along with the residents of Vasco, have said that the port authorities do not have control over the land as the beach and the bay are common properties and are under the jurisdiction of the state government. The port disagrees, saying that the area falls within its administrative limits duly notified under the Indian Ports Act, 1908. The port's development also poses a threat to nearly 350 homes of fishermen and workers. According to the port authorities, these are illegal encroachments and, therefore, there is no proposal for land acquisition or rehabilitation. Moreover, the port recognises only 200 homes that existed when a survey was conducted in 1998, but the number of houses has increased over the years. Most of the homes are shanties made of metal sheets and belong to workers from neighbouring Karnataka, who work as helpers on mechanised fishing trawlers or on the traditional boats. The port authorities estimate that 360 homes will be affected, of which around 30 will be demolished to make way for the new infrastructure. The port has promised to hand over land in the same locality as compensation. The port has re-applied for environmental clearance for the project. Demolition and construction will commence after the clearance is granted. The community expressed their disapproval at an environmental public hearing near Vasco on October 5, 2018, and have called for the project to be scrapped. In February 2020, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) - an expert panel of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) recommended the Environmental Clearance to the port for expansion. However, local activists say that they will petition the MoEFCC to reject the EAC's recommendation. In March 2020, the Union Minister of State for Shipping, Mansukh Mandviya, introduced the Major Ports Bill, 2020, which seeks to replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963. The bill seeks to empower the port authority to undertake any activity without local intervention within the port limits. This undermines the provision of consent by local bodies such as panchayats and municipalities to carry out any activity related to ports. Viriato Fernandes from Goencho Avaaz has written to Mandviya pleading that the bill should exempt Mormugao Port Trust in the larger interest of the state of Goa and its people, especially those who live and depend on the sea.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources, Opposition against environmental degradation

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

Legislations/Policies Involved

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:

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

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)

National Green Tribunal (Western Zone), High Court of Bombay at Goa, Supreme Court of India

Case Number

WP 173/2018, Misc. Civil Application No.110/2018, (NGT- Appeal No. 10/2016 ), SC- Civil Appeal 9955/2016

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:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Objections as part of official procedures , Advocacy (for inclusion in courts), Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Goa State Pollution Control Board

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:
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Documented By

Nihar Gokhale

Reviewed By

Nihar Gokhale

Updated By

Nihar Gokhale

Edited By

Nihar GokhaleLand Conflict Watch

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