In a shot in the arm for fishermen in coastal Karnataka protesting against the expansion of Karwar port, the Karnataka High Court (HC) has put an interim stay on the second phase of expansion.
The HC also ordered the state government to demolish a road and other structures built for the project and restore the beach.
The port was being expanded under the central government project called Sagarmala. In its order on Thursday, the bench led by Chief Justice AS Oka asked the state government to maintain status quo. The HC was also unhappy with the state government continuing to push for the project even after permission for the project was withdrawn by the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and objections by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB).
TNM had earlier reported how fishermen community in the region have been holding spontaneous agitations against this project which they fear will not only adversely affect the ecology but also kill their livelihood.
On January 16, the community spilled out onto the streets to agitate against the construction of a breakwater — a barrier built out into the sea to protect a coast from the force of waves. The construction of the breakwater started on Monday and the fishing community fears this is the first step in the proposed expansion of the port which they say will wipe out traditional fishing families.
The construction they said would also irreversibly damage Rabindranath Tagore beach and affect the movement of fishing boats in and out of Aligadda and Baithkoli beaches.
While the SEIAA and other authorities concerned had initially approved the project, subsequent protests and activism led Vinod K Singh, a Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) scientist, to write to the SEIAA in July 2019.
Following that, the SEIAA had directed the district authority to probe the issue and based on the DC’s report, the SEIAAA issued a show-cause notice to the port authority.