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New port threatens Aghnashini estuary in India

India’s last free-flowing river, the Aghnashini in the Uttara Kannada area of Karnataka, and the communities that rely on its unpolluted waters, are threatened by a new port project. The project ignores coastal zone regulations and threatens a mangrove forest nominated as a biodiversity heritage site, Namati’s Meenakshi Kapoor, tells The Guardian.

 

Meenakshi told The Guardian:

The Karnataka State Industrial and Infrastructural Development Corporation plans to build the state’s largest port at Tadri in Aghnashini.

Every morning, thousands of people, standing chest-deep in water, collect bivalves. These make it to the dining tables of residents in Goa and Bangalore. Bivalve shells are used in poultry feed, cement, and paint industries. Aquaculture, fishing, and salt production are other occupations supported by the estuary.

The state forest department has proposed that the thick mangrove forest in the area be declared a ‘Biodiversity Heritage Site’.

Tadri port threatens these mangroves and the livelihoods of local communities. The state declares it will bring benefits to people, but many from the local communities don’t buy it.

The EIA underplayed the number of livelihoods dependent on the estuary and overplayed the benefits of the upcoming port. The communities expressed their concerns through legal notices and formal letters to the district authorities prior to the public hearing on 23 March 2015. But they were ignored.

Neither the state infrastructure development corporation nor the district authorities paid attention to the port’s impact on fishermen and villagers’ livelihoods.

Read the full article on The Guardian’s conservation pages.

View a photo gallery by Aubrey Wade for Namati that compares the Aghnashini estuary with polluted waters near Vapi in Gujarat.

 


September 21, 2015 | Paul McCann


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