The Karnataka High Court has stayed the second phase of Karwar port expansion on Friday, January 24. The fishing community of Karwar, a coastal town of in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, opposed the expansion of the port. 

Karnataka High Court
Karnataka High CourtTwitter

"A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Hemanth Chandangoudar on Thursday ordered an interim stay on the construction of the commercial port's second phase on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an environmental group (Sahakara Sangha)," an official of the state public works, ports and inland water transport department. 

Construction of Karwar Port expansion halted

Though the project is being implemented under the central government's ambitious Sagarmala scheme, the bench directed the state government to halt further construction. Karwar is about 520 km from Bengaluru in the southern state. "We will stop the construction work in compliance with the court order to maintain the status quo," the official added.

The bench reminded the state government that the state environmental impact assessment authority and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) withdrew their permission for expanding the project due to the ecological concerns expressed by the group.

Karwar Port
Karwar Port. Twitter

Issuing notices to the authorities concerned for their response to the concerns raised in the PIL, the bench directed the state government to demolish the road and other structures built on the Rabindranath Tagore beach and restore the area, as hundreds of people, including tourists throng the area and fishermen sail into the Arabian Sea for fishing.

The project expansion will not only affect the ecosystem of the coastal region, but also deprive livelihood of the fishing community and affect tourism 

According to local reports, Uttar Kannada district deputy commissioner Harish Kumar assured the NGO and the fishing community of re-examining the expansion project and the construction of the breakwater, a barrier built into the sea to protect the coast from waves.

Why is the fishing community protesting against Karwar Port expansion? 

Fishing boat
[Representational image]NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images

On January 16, the fishing community took to the streets against the construction of breakwater which is a barrier built into the sea to protect a coast from the force of waves. With the construction of the breakwater, the members feared that this was the first step in the proposed expansion of the port.

According to the fishing community, the expansion will: 

  • Wipeout traditional fishing families.
  • Cause irreversible damage to Rabindranath Tagore beach.
  • Ecological concerns. 
  • Affect tourism. 
  • Deprive livelihood of the fishing community. 
  • Affect the movement of fishing boats in and out of Aligadda and Baithkoli beaches.