Sagarmala project: Serious concerns being raised about environmental effects on coastal areas

fishermanNational Fishworkers’ Forum and National Alliance of People’s Movements have joined hands to fight the “destructive” port and corridor based development model. A synopsis of two-day national consultation on the Sagarmala project held in Delhi:

Addressing the critical issues and concerns out of National Perspective Plan under the implementation for Sagarmala and Industrial Corridors along the Indian coastline, the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) leadership asserted that such projects were being approved without any thought going into the effects on the fishing community who are settled all along the coasts. It is also true that the original Sagarmala plan articulated under former PM Mr. A.B Vajpayee has been modified with large scale land and ocean grabbing, displacing the people and their right to life, livelihood and dignity. The ecological devastation has also been accelerated which is being sidelined in this massive push for development.

The Sagarmala project is primarily aimed at developing ports, transport through waterways and promote shipping, in other words it is just a port-based development model. However, a port-based development of multiple projects intended at bringing in foreign currency, should be understood differently from coastal development. Serious concerns are being raised about the environmental effects on the coasts with issues like coastal erosion, coastal accretion as well as severe problems of dredging and the effects on the sea bed due to this. It is a fact that construction of breakwaters is leading to such disturbance in the ocean current that fishworkers are not able to go into the sea to fish. Moreover, the massive increase in ports and coming in of huge projects under Sagarmala is not in coordination with the requirement and the feasibility of having a huge number of ports.

The ill effects of the Enayam port were highlighted which is an upcoming port in Tamil Nadu that is considered to be unviable and will also lead displacement in a thickly populated coastal district. The Vizhinjam port, already handed over to the Adani group, which is swallowing the entire coast, is being opposed by the fishing community in Thiruvananthapuram district. The expansion of the Kamraj Ennoore port, in Tamil Nadu, has already been opposed by community and experts alike. We demand that the viability studies be made public and the local community consent be made mandatory before going ahead with these unviable projects. Immediate cessation of all construction related activities must be done.

Fishworkers from Kutch, Gujarat highlighted the 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. It was also mentioned that Adani acquired huge amounts of land on the coastline for the Mundra SEZ first, and caused all kinds of environmental violations. The most shocking has been the ease with which over 2500 acres of mangroves were removed and land filling was done by Adani, with impunity. These projects have also brought out severe effects on the marine ecology where up to 25 kms of coastline you can find dead fish because of massive amounts of toxins being released into the estuaries.

‘Sagarmala’ needs serious national assessment, from its different complexities. The industrial corridors, the economic corridors, smart cities, coastal investment regions like PCPIR and sagarmala are all a part of the larger plan for industrialization, which will destroy India’s vulnerable coastline.

The leaders also noted that the NDA Government’s demonetisation effort, under the pretext of curtailing black money, is hurting the fishing community across India – other than many other formal and informal production sectors. Without scientifically assessed reasons and a detailed cost-benefit analysis, it is scary that the Central Government has gone ahead with such a scheme, jeopardising the lives of the majority Indians, to catch a minority engaged in black money and illegal transactions.

The NFF and the NAPM will be taking forward their struggles on these issues with further discussions at the NFF General Body in Tuticorin (9th and 10th December 2016) and the NAPM National Convention in Patna (2-4 Dec 2016).

In solidarity, Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) gave the following statement:

The corporates and multinational Companies have joined together with the intention to grab the ocean and the coast. State and Central governments have become agent of the corporates and are permitting the foreign trawlers in the India deep seas, constructing atomic thermal power stations, disastrous chemical industries, hotels and big resorts and coastal industrial corridors at the coasts. These projects have several illegalities in formulation, approval, sanction and implementation. These pertinent issuer were discussed the fishworker community from all coastal area along with National Alliance of People’s Movements in the two days convention on 19th and 20th Nov 2016 in Delhi.

In this convention people from eleven coastal States joined and presented the interests of the fishworkers living there and the regarding the anti-people response of the governments and the oppression unleashed by the corporates. The scientific studies, pictures, short video clippings and testimonies provides the extreme vulnerability created for the undue profit of corporates.

The livelihood of the fishworkers has not been considered by the elected government. The corporates have freedom to pour toxic affluent in the coastal area and sea soar. As a result fishes died and disappeared. So far more than twenty commercial species of fish have been disappeared from the sea at Kachchh, Gujarat. Similar is the case in other sea areas. Mangroves have been destroyed and land are being used by corporates. Solid toxic wastes and inflatable toxics dumped in forest and other empty threatens human and animal lives in the coastal area.

To solve the problem created in the coastal area, the corporate and government comes with the idea of Sagarmala, Smart Cities, Industrial Corridor and many more. These projects and ideas are creating other multiple problems of unrest and threats.

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