Goan Fishermen Oppose Port Expansion in Vasco da Gama

Reported by

Nihar GokhaleLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

November 16, 2020

Location of Conflict

Vasco da Gama

,

South Goa

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Port

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

1728

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

65

ha

State

Goa

Sector

Infrastructure

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.

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):

500

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

65

ha

Starting Year

2018

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Goa State Pollution Control Board

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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