Experts warn of ecological damage, oppose expansion of Tadadi port

Marine experts and faculty of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to grant environmental clearance to the proposed port at Tadadi in the Aghanshini estuary of Uttara Kannada district.

In a letter to the prime minister in March, Prof T V Ramachandra, Co-ordinator, Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc stressed that the port is ecologically important and is also too small to be developed as a major port.

The Centre has proposed to upgrade Tadadi port to international standards with a facility to anchor at least 200 ships. As part of the Sagar Mala Programme, the government has proposed three ports in Uttara Kananda — in Haldipur (Honnavar), Sharavathi (Honnavar) and Tadadi.

Environmentalists are questioning the need to develop Tadadi port when extraction and shipping of iron ore in banned. Tadadi in Kumta taluk, falls under the Coastal Zonal Regulation zone- 1 (CZR-1) and removal of mangroves will amount to violation of norms of the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), point out experts.

In the letter to the prime minister and Anil Dave,  Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the IISc professor said: “Considering the looming threat of climate change (rise in sea level), the livelihood of 4,500 families and since the region is in the Coastal Zonal Regulation (CZR)- 1 and is biologically rich, it is appropriate to shelve the proposed project.”

Moreover, the Karnataka Biodiversity Board had declared the Aghanashini estuary as a Biodiversity Heritage Site in 2002. The Aghanashini River is ancient and the estuary is endowed with rich fishery and mangroves. Around 6,000 fishermen’s families are dependent on the estuary for fish, bivalves, sand and salt. The value of the ecosystem is said to be worth over Rs 11 lakh per hectare, Ramachandra added.

V N Nayak, chairman, Department of Marine Biology, Karwar, who has prepared a detailed report on the port said that they have also requested MP Ananth Kumar Hegde to press the Centre not to commercialise the port. “Earlier, the plan was to make Tadadi a port when iron ore export was rampant. But since that has stopped, there was no threat. The government was also keen to privatise it,” he said.

According to an office memorandum issued on November 2009 by the MoEF on the new policy of expansion of existing ports and initiation of new projects along the coastline, Tadadi had been declared a “critical erosion” zone. According to CZR, areas which are prone to soil erosion shall not be considered for location ports and harbours.
DH News Service

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