The Supreme Court on Tuesday told the project proponent to not continue with construction activities in connection with Rs 2,000 crore extension of the commercial Karwar port in Karnataka.
After hearing arguments in the matter on the plea filed by a fishermen association, a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana issued notice to the Karnataka government and others.e
Senior advocate Devadatt Kamat and advocate Amit Pai, representing the petitioner, questioned the validity of the high court judgment passed on July 29, 2021, declining to entertain the association’s plea against the project.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing DVP Infra Projects Private Ltd, contended before the top court that halting the construction activity would escalate the costs. However, the bench replied that beaches and environment can’t be destroyed, and also made an oral observation against carrying out further construction activities.
The plea contended that Karwar is an ecologically sensitive area, therefore, the environmental clearance given to the 2nd stage expansion of the commercial Karwar port by the state level authority is bad in law. “For the said expansion, only the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change could have given prior environmental clearance upon the recommendation of the Expert Advisor Committee (EAC),” added the plea. It further contended that it is also a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area (CVCA).
Counsel representing the petitioner insisted that there should be status quo on the project and pointed out that construction commenced based on environmental clearance (EC) granted from state-level authorities on January 23, 2019. The plea contended that this EC was in contravention of the Environment Impact Assessment notification of September 14, 2006.
The plea claimed the high court did not pay heed to the livelihood of the fisherfolk, which would be adversely impacted by the project and added that Karwar is notified as a “ecologically sensitive areas” as per 2011 and 2019 notifications.
The plea contended that the project of the 2nd Stage Expansion of the Karwar Commercial Port has the impact of directly and adversely impacting the right of the people to enjoy the beach.