Karnataka’s Port-Development Spree Ignores Coastal Communities’ Concerns

Environmental News from India:

  • Karnataka is keen to accelerate a port-led model of development, hoping to attract a number of private investments. It has one major port and 12 minor ports under different stages of development.
  • Since 2014, the state government has been pursuing policies that ease infrastructure and industrial development.
  • The port-led model, however, ignores people living in the vicinity of proposed constructions. At least three ports that are currently under development have run into trouble, facing resistance from the communities.

Karnataka is on a port-development spree. The 320-kilometre coastline, spread across three districts – Uttara Kannada, Udupi, and Dakshin Kannada – is dotted with 12 minor ports, and one major port, in different stages of development. A common complaint across this port development activity is that it ignores concerns raised by the coastal communities that live in the vicinity of the action – concerns about the loss of coastal commons, the loss of biodiversity and a loss of livelihood.

While a major port comes under the aegis of the central government, the minor ports are controlled by state governments. A major port has deeper drafts allowing large, capesize vessels, higher investments and higher tariffs. A minor port, in comparison, has lower tariffs.

With the impetus of Sagarmala, a nationwide port-led development initiative of the central government, Karnataka is keen to go all-in to create coastal infrastructure in the form of ports, railways and highways that connect the coast to the hinterland. Kapil Mohan, additional chief secretary of Karnataka Infrastructure Development, Ports and Inland Waterways Department and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Karnataka Maritime Board estimates that “the planned infrastructure development is expected to bring in approximately Rs. 15,000 crore (Rs. 150 billion) of economic value addition.”

This growth is led by both Sagarmala, which is funded largely by the central government, and the state government which is also pumping in and encouraging private investments largely through a public-private partnership model. In a speech at a business and maritime conclave organised by Karnataka Maritime Board, Federation of Karnataka’s Chamber of Commerce, and State Bank of India on May 12, Karnataka’s chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said that their government has proposed projects of over Rs 8,000 crore (Rs. 80 billion) to be developed under Sagarmala. Both the central and state government are led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In November this year, the state is organising a global investors’ summit to attract international investments.

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Source: Mongabay

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