2018-10-06 23:29:28 UTC
Proposed Port Development in Goa Threatens to Wipe out Fishing Communities
Sagarmala, a project designed to modernise India’s ports, threatens to wipe
out the livelihoods of fisherfolk in Goa. A public hearing on the matter
will be held on 5 October, 2018.
Devidas Gaonkar is a poet and journalist, and a proud member of the
indigenous Velip tribe. He lives in a remote forest reserve not far from
the beautiful and touristic beaches of South Goa. Devidas dropped out of
school in 2003 because there was no money for education, and of boredom if
he had note found film-making, his passion. One of the earliest members of
Video Volunteers, Devidas has used camera and storytelling to document the
struggles of his own community against the rampages of mining, focusing on
the environment, tribal rights and fading traditions, all of which found no…
Fishing is the economic mainstay of several communities in the coastal
state of Goa. But mechanisation of fishing, coupled with industrialisation
and environmental degradation, is threatening the livelihoods of
traditional fishing communities.
The fishing community in Khariwado, a kilometre-long stretch in Vasco da
Gama, which has seen its fortunes dwindle over time, is now opposing a new
project that threatens to wipe out their source of livelihood. The beach is
contiguous with the Mormugao Port, one of the biggest ports in India, and
has borne the onslaughts of controversial port expansion projects over the
“60 percent of the beach is already contaminated, and the remaining 40
percent has disappeared altogether. Further dredging will wipe out the
entire beach,” says Olencio Simoes, Vice Chairperson of the National
The latest projects of the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) include a fishing
jetty, a passenger jetty, a POL (petroleum, oil and lubricant) jetty and
general cargo berths. These projects are part of the Sagarmala Project, an
initiative of the central government to modernise ports across India. The
fishing jetty is proposed to be constructed in Khariwado, and the sea bed
is already being dredged for the project. While the fishing community is
not opposing the fishing jetty itself, they are opposing the MPT’s proposal
to build a 520 metre finger quay with a petroleum, oil and lubricants berth.
“The authorities are trying to trick us by saying that they are building a
fishing jetty but it is actually a POL jetty”, says Simoes. Residents fear
that the fishing jetty could be a way to evade the NGT’s order and continue
to serve corporate interests.
A fishing jetty would not require the kind of dredging that the MPT is
currently undertaking. In September 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT)
had halted the dredging activity that the Trust was then carrying out for
the construction of a new berth because it had begun the work before it got
the Environmental Clearance to do so. Moreover, the MPT had bypassed the
compulsory public hearing and the NGT also found discrepancies in the
Environmental Impact Assessment Report, which the Bombay High Court upheld.
A public hearing was finally held in February 2017, but 65 percent of the
dredging had already been done by then.
A petroleum and oil jetty will mean greater industrial activity in the
vicinity, more pollution and related health hazards, and displacement of
the fishing community. Even the neighbouring Baina beach, another fishing
hub, will be affected.
“If the beach ceases to exist, we will lose our way of life and our source
of livelihood,” says Custodia D’souza, a fisherman representing the Old
Cross Canoe Owners Association. It will not only affect the local fishing
community but also migrant communities who work in the Goan fishing
industry, for lack of better opportunities back home. Overall, 2000
families in the area are engaged in fishing.
Residents also fear demolition and displacement. “Communities that have
lived here for 200 years are being told by the MPT that their homes are
going to be demolished,” says Simoes. The Environmental Impact Assessment
Report, however, maintains that there is no resettlement and rehabilitation
plan since the project will be carried out on the existing port premises
and no land will be acquired.
“The coast is nearly destroyed, Jindal is responsible for it,” says Juze
Roderigues, a 75-year-old from Khariwado.
Jindal Steel Works (JSW) accounts for the bulk of the operations being
carried out at the Mormugao Port and the company was banned from
transporting coal for flouting the permit prescribed by the Goa State
Pollution Control Board. This not only affected the company’s profits but
also the profits of the MPT, which gets 18 percent of the revenue generated
by the South West Port, the JSW berths in the Mormugao Port. However, the
Board announced a fresh permit for the company in June 2018.
In the meantime, this trail of industrialisation is leaving an irreversible
imprint on the lives of ordinary Goans. Fishing communities are losing
their source of livelihood, people are suffering from respiratory and
reproductive illnesses and conventional lifestyles– all in the name of
To ensure that development projects do not evade public scrutiny and
transparency and that development is participatory in nature, the
environment clearance process mandates that a public hearing be held, where
stakeholders can have a direct interaction with government.
On 5 October 2018, an environment public hearing will be held in Vasco da
Gama where residents can present their views, seek clarifications or
information about the project; and hopefully, the government will listen.
Video by Community Correspondent Devidas Gaonkar
Article by Alankrita Anand, a member of the VV Editorial Team
Posted in: Environment, Goa, Labor Rights Tagged in: goa, fishing
community, Fishing in India, Ports in India,Mormugao Port