Karwar, Jan 17, 2020: A dawn-to-dusk bandh, called by fishermen associations and pro-people organisations against the expansion of the commercial port as part of Sagarmala project, brought the port city to a grinding halt on Thursday.
Protest rallies and roadblocks marked the daylong bandh, which went off peacefully. In view of the bandh, shops, hotels and other business establishments
remained closed while schools and colleges were declared
holiday on Wednesday itself. KSRTC buses, taxis, tempos and autorickshaws remained off roads for most part of the day.
Members of fishing community, Karnataka Pranth Raitha Sangha and several pro-people organisations, in large numbers, took to streets in the morning. The agitators held a meeting at Mitra Samaj grounds. They took out a procession on the major streets of the town before blocking National Highway 66 for well over an hour.
The agitators argued that the expansion of commercial port would affect the movement of fishing boats and trawlers from and to Baithkol fishing harbour due to its proximity with Karwar commercial port. Further, they complained that the Sagarmala project works would spoil the beauty of the famed Rabindranath Tagore beach.
The protesters submitted a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Dr K Harishkumar, demanding the government to stall construction of seawall as part of the project. The DC assured the agitating fishermen: Fishing community’s apprehension about the Sagaramala project will be brought to the notice of the Ports and Fisheries minister. The minister will take a call on whether to stall works after meeting the leaders of fishermen community and the senior officials,” he said.
BJP flays Cong for duality over protest
The ruling BJP on Thursday hit out at the Congress for ‘inciting’ protests over the proposed expansion of the Karwar port under the Sagarmala project.
Ports & Fisheries Minister Kota Srinivas Poojary, Uttara Kannada district minister Shashikala Jolle and Karwar legislator Roopali Naik made this charge at a joint news conference in Bengaluru.
“In December 2017, the then CM Siddaramaiah had laid the foundation stone for the expansion of the port. The fishing community had participated in the event then. Former MLAs Satish Sail and Anand Asnotikar had supported it. But now, they are leading the protests. This is just to target the BJP,” the BJP leaders charged.
“The expansion of the port is taking place at a cost of Rs 125 crore funded by the Centre and the state. I have already appealed that this will neither affect traditional fishing nor the identity of the port,” Naik said.
Leaders of the fishing community and legislators from that region will be invited to Vidhana Soudha soon to discuss their grievances. “I have already informed the chief minister about this,” Poojary said.