Karnataka

Stop expansion work on commercial Karwar port: HC

Bench also directs State government to restore beach to original condition

The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday not only directed the State government to stop, until further orders, all construction activities related to the development of commercial Karwar port at Baithkol village in Uttara Kannada district under the Sagar Mala project, but also asked it to restore the beach, which was levelled to reach the proposed area for constructing a breakwater, to its original condition.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar, passed the interim order on a PIL petition by the Baithkol Bandharu Nirashrithara Yantrikrut Dhoni Meenugarara Sahakara Sangha Niyamitha, an association of fishermen.

No final order

The Bench also directed the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) not to pass a final order on an application by the State Department of Ports and Inland Water seeking Consent for Establishment (CFE) of a breakwater till the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SLEIAA) considers a communication by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.

The Ministry in July, 2019, forwarded a plea, for withdrawing the Environment Clearance granted to the project, to the SLEIAA.

The Bench directed the SLEIAA to take a decision on the representation based on the Ministry’s communication by February 26.

The Bench passed the order after noticing that preliminary works were started in violation of a specific order passed by the KSPCB on December 20, 2019, to stop all the works on the project till the CFE is granted.

The Bench also observed that the government, prima facie, had breached a condition imposed in the EC that the CFE should be obtained from the KSPCB. The preliminary works started without obtaining CFE, when the application for the CFE was submitted only on January 16, 2020.

‘High-handedness’

Counsel for the government contended that the preliminary works were within the limits of exiting the port area to reach the proposed breakwater area.

But, the Bench pointed out that, from the photographs produced in the petition, the beach was levelled, and termed as “high-handedness” the government’s action to continue the works, despite a specific communication from the KSPCB’s Environmental Officer to stop all construction activities till the CFE is granted.

The government should have respected the KSPCB’s order to stop all work, the Bench observed.

Further hearing was adjourned till February 26.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:27:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/stop-expansion-work-on-commercial-karwar-port-hc/article30637377.ece

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