A civil society consultation on Sagarmala, a Government of India project conceived under former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, and modified by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to turn coastal areas into “gateways to India's prosperity”, has reached the conclusion that it would mean large-scale ecological devastation and displacement along the coastal areas.
Alleging that it would lead to “large scale land and ocean grabbing, displacing people and their right to life, livelihood and dignity”, the consultation, organized by National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), asked the Government of India to drop the project or face major protests along the coastal regions.
In a note prepared by NFF and NAPM following the consultation takes particular objection to the concept of the project, which it says that its primarily aimed at developing ports, transport through waterways and promote shipping to trigger a port-based developmental model.
“However”, the consultation said, a port-based development of multiple projects intended at bringing in foreign currency should be understood differently from coastal development, adding, Sagarmala would bring about massive coastal erosion” and coastal accretion, accompanied by severe problems of dredging.
Pointing out that the Sagarmala project would “effectively promote real estate projects”, the note said, there has not been any effort to consult the coastal communities, adding, it being approved without any thought going into the effects on the fishing community,settled all along the coasts.
Opposing the plant to have industrial corridors along the Indian coastline to compliment the Sagarmala proejct, the note said, already one could see the “ill effects of the Enayam port” in Tamil Nadu. It would lead to displacement of fisherfolk.
Then, the the Vizhinjam port, handed over to the Adani group, is being opposed by the fishing community in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, the note said, adding, things are not very different for the proposed expansion of the Kamraj Ennoore port in Tamil Nadu.
The consultation demanded that viability studies be made public and consent of the local communities be made mandatory before going ahead with such an unviable project, insisting, there should be immediate cessation of all construction related activities along the coastal areas.
During the consultation, representatives of the fishworkers from Kutch, Gujarat, pointed towards what they called “severe effects of the Adani port and Adani, Tata and OPG thermal power plants in the Mundra area on the traditional small fishermen, who have faced effects on their livelihood.”
Especially taking exception to the Adani Group allegedly acquiring huge plots of land along the coastline for Mundra SEZ in violation of the environmental violations, the note said, “The most shocking has been the ease with which over 2500 acres of mangroves were removed and land filling.”
Meanwhile, Coastal projects, the note said, have been adversely impacting marine ecology up to 25 km of the coastline, where one could find dead fish because of “massive amounts of toxins being released into the estuaries.”
The consultation decided to discuss further actions against the Sagarmala project at the NAPM National Convention in Patna (December 2-4, 2016) and NFF General Body in Tuticorin (December 9-10, 2016).
On November 21, the World Fisheries Day would be observed by giving a call against ‘ocean grabbing’at a rally at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.