Environmental News from India:
- A four-kilometre long road under construction on a beach at Kasarkod-Tonka, a coastal village in Uttara Kannada is threatening the livelihood of over 2,000 fisherwomen.
- The road is part of Honnavar port project and the site of road construction comes under the No Development Zone of India’s coastal regulation norms. It is an unsurveyed land, part of the village coastal commons, and has been used by fishers for generations for drying fish.
- A petition filed at the National Green Tribunal contends that the private company misguided authorities while seeking coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance.
- Fishers are worried about their livelihood and their existence but are determined to keep fighting.
Read part 1 of this series to understand Karnataka’s port-based development spree and what it means for the people living on the coast. Part 3 looks at one such minor port project in Honnavar which is also the nesting site for the olive ridley turtle.
On January 24, 2022, at about 6 a.m., a group of approximately 70 men and women came together to protest the construction of a road on the beach at Kasarkod-Tonka, a coastal village in Honnavar, in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. They stated that the road was being constructed illegally, without requisite clearances, threatening their livelihood, and impacting the biodiversity of an eco-sensitive area.
By 8:30 a.m., there was a large police force, of about 600 people surrounding them, reveals a letter addressed to the National Human Rights Commission on May 6, by the Human Right Defenders’ Alert. They were roughed up, pushed and forced into two tempos. They were taken to the district police station, where they were detained till 8 p.m. Several from the group sustained injuries. For the rest of the week, till January 30, the police imposed Section 144 on the residents of Kasarkod-Tonka, which prohibits the assembly of more than four people in an area. Work on the road construction, meanwhile, continued unabated.
A day after the incident, on January 25, and then, more recently, on July 2, the fishing community along with LEAF (Living Earth Foundation), a non-profit that works on environmental advocacy and particularly with people affected by major infrastructure projects, filed a complaint to the Karnataka State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) against the ongoing construction of the road.
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