Thursday 17 October 2019

Objections to holding of Public Hearing for setting up AHOY Marina in Zuari River at Nauxim waterfront

Date: 17th October 2019
The Collector (North Goa),
Panjim, Goa

Subject: Objections to holding of Public Hearing for setting up AHOY Marina in Zuari River at Nauxim waterfront.

Dear Madam/Sir,

We had submitted letter to your office on 01/03/2019 objecting proposed public hearing on marinas in Zuari river. In this letter we re-iterate our opposition to fresh notice from Goa State Pollution Control Board declaring Public Hearing for setting up of “AHOY Marina” at Nauxim on 02/11/2019 at 10.30 am at Shyama Prasad Mukherjee indoor Stadium near Goa University as per advertisement from Goa State Pollution Control Board dated 25/09/2019 signed by Member secretary Sanjeev S. Joglekar. As per this advertisement in media District Magistrate or her/his representative is to supervise the entire Public Hearing Process. Hence we address this letter to you.

We object the holding of above mentioned Public hearing on the following grounds:

1.     Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) preparation end only on November 05, 2019 and it is inappropriate to install project of Marina in Nauxim before the completion of CZMP.

2.     Location of the Marina is fish breeding/spawning site as well fishing site for several fishers on Zuari river bank specially in villages of Nauxim, Bambolim, Siridao, Odxel, and Cacra. Location of AHOY Marina is in violation of international law governing fisheries world wide. From July 2014 India is a signatory to Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication. These are known as SSF Guidelines and are made enforceable in India via Article 54 of the National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017. SSF Guidelines are applicable in scope to both marine as well as inland waters as per its para 2.2. And so they are applicable to Zuari river as well. According to para 1.1.c SSF Guidelines are to function in consistent with Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, 1995 for which India is a signatory too. AHOY Marina location is in violation of this Code. Article 6.8 of this Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries states “All critical fisheries habitats in marine and fresh water ecosystems, such as wetlands, mangroves, reefs, lagoons, nursery and spawning areas, should be protected and rehabilitated as far as possible and where necessary. Particular effort should be made to protect such habitats from destruction, degradation, pollution and other significant impacts resulting from human activities that threaten the health and viability of the fishery resources.” Destruction of Nauxim famous fish spawning area itself is site for AHOY Marina that will be subjected to heavy drilling and blasting of the purpose of dredging as per the draft EIA report leading to major long term negative irreversible impact on fisheries in Zuari river. Hence this constitutes violation of Article 6.8 of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

3.     The Jurisdictions of MPT over Zuari waters is disputed as Central government circular of 24th May 2000 was issued without consulting fishing communities of Zuari river as well without consulting Goa Government.

4.     The representative of Goa Government Dr. Modassir (PA to Secretary – Ports) was absent for the 8th September 2010 meeting MPT 24th Board of Trustees when it decided to rent out Zuari river for two marinas at Sancoale and Nauxim. Dr. Modassir had sent note top postpone this matter as it is important as per records in the minutes of this meeting.

5.     Lease deed of 12th October 2010 between MPT and Kargwal constructions does not acknowledge the existence of fishing communities depend upon fishing in Zuari river and need to safeguard their rights.

6.     Port Land Policy -under which Zuari river has been leased out - was never discussed with fishing communities of Zuari river before its formulation nor shared after formulating. So there was complete non-transparency in this matter and leasing our of water fronts at Nauxim admeasuring more than 1,50,000 square meters of river bed amounts to land grab and Blue grab and contrary to claims of Blue-Green enterprise in Chapter III of the Draft EIA.

7.     In-Principle approval dated 29/04/2015 granted by Goa Investment Promotion Board to Kargwal Construction Pvt Ltd to set up Marina near Nauxim village –annexed with draft EIA report - is a fraud in several respects. First there is no ecologist who is a member of Goa Investment Promotion Board. Second there is no fisher community member who is engaged in fishing on Goa Investment Promotion Board. Thirdly, local people from Nauxim were not consulted at all by Investment Promotion Board before granting in-principle approval. Fourthly, after granting in-principle approval for Marina the decision was not communicated to Nauxim people or to Curca-Bambolim Panchayat under whose Jurisdiction Nauxim village comes.  Fifthly, In-principle approval decision was conveyed to the Village Panchayat of Cortalim that has no Jurisdiction over Nauxim village. Chief Minister of Goa who is chairman of this Board should call for immediate meeting and revoke the in-principle approval granted. Sixthly as per draft EIA report (Chapter III) “A marina is a harbour for yachts and other luxury boats and it is becoming a necessity of luxury tourism.” Such large scale projects destroying fishing practices cannot be imposed in a fishing village. According to para 6.8 of SSF Guidelines only community based tourism is allowed.

8.     Draft EIA on AHOY Marina admits significant fishing activity at the site of proposed AHOY Marina. Careful reading of Tables 5.2 (Coefficient values for impact assessment) and 5.3 (Impact quantifications) on pages 5.9 and 5.10 indicate with certainty that Fisheries in Zuari River will have Major permanent long term irreversible negative impact of coefficient of double (-2).

9.     Fisheries are entry 21 in the State List of Schedule 7 under Article 246 of the Constitution of India. Union Government through its Surface Transport Ministry, Shipping Department though MPT has no Jurisdiction to interfere and destroy Fisheries in the State of Goa within 12 nautical miles territorial limits. Any interference amounts to violation of Article 246 of the Constitution of India.

10.                        Draft EIA report on AHOY Marina commits to follow PIANC/IAPH guidelines for construction of Marina facility. Guidelines of World Organization of Dredging Organizations (WODA). At the same time ignores SSF Guidelines on small scale fisheries to which India is a signatory from July 2014 and pledged its enforcement through Article 54 of the National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017. According to SSF Guidelines that stands for “Voluntary Guidelines for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries in the context of food security and poverty eradication” has a provision to hold accountable to those who are responsible for destruction of fisheries as AHOY Marina is a disaster for fishing in Zuari river. According to para 9.5 of SSF Guidelines “in case of disasters caused by humans,impacting small-scale fisheries, the responsibleparty should be held accountable.” In the case of Nauxim AHOY Marina it is Union Surface Transport Ministry and its subsidiary MPT together with Kargwal Constructions pvt Ltd is a responsible party that will be held accountable for willful destruction of Zuari river fisheries. It is willful destruction as it is indicated in draft EIA itself.

11.                        According to the draft EIA report (page 4.78)villagers of Nauxim, Odxel and Kakra are primarily Shudra. This word Shudra means slaves. This word does not exists in the Constitution of India but found in Manushmriti that rates Shudra communities to the lowest in the hierarchy of graded inequality without any right to education and social interactions restricted within caste boundaries subjected to untouchability as Shudra is held unworthy even to lift body of a dead brahmin. Only duty of Shudra is to be servants of Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vyashas. System of graded inequality as well as untouchability is made redundant by Constitution of India though Articles 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 21 which are the Fundamental Rights that cannot be suspended. Use of the word Shudra suspends these Fundamental Rights. If classification of section of people as Shudra is allowed in official documents like this draft EIA then every one will have to clarify whether he or she belongs to Shudra Varna or Brahmin Varna or Vyashya Varna or Kshatriya Varna. This is ridiculous practice and can snowball into unpredictable consequences of social disorder.

12.                        Location of AHOY Marina in Nauxi water is direct contradiction of SSF Guidelines para 5.9 which states that “States should ensure that small-scale fishing communities are not arbitrarily evicted and that their legitimate tenure rights are not otherwise extinguished or infringed. States should recognize that competition from other users is increasing within small-scale fisheries areas and that small-scale fishing communities, in particular vulnerable and marginalized groups, are often the weaker party in conflicts with other sectors and may require special support if their livelihoods are threatened by the development and activities of other sectors.” Tenure rights of small scale fishers are going to be extinguished and that’s reason why package is included in the draft EIA report in Chapter II.

13.                        AHOY Marina location is also in violation of para 5.13 of the SSF Guidelines that states States and all those engaged in fisheries management should adoptmeasures for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources and to secure the ecological foundation for food production. They should promote and implement appropriate  Management systems, consistent with their existing obligations under national and international law and voluntary commitments, including the Code, that give due recognition to the requirements and opportunities of small-scale fisheries”. Goa’s Fisheries department has refrained from enforcing SSF Guidelines, the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security and other international legal instruments applicable to Fisheries. If these were enforced then Goa Fisheries department would have quickly objected the Marina project at Nauxim at the planning stage itself rather than compel public to enter into the phase of public protests and agitations on this issue. Equitable access to fisheries guaranteed under para 5.13 would have never been allowed to be blocked though plans of installing Marina in Nauxim bay.

14.                        Nauxim AHOY Marina, the way it has planned is in complete violation of para 5.17 of SSF Guidelines that states “All endeavours should be made so that small-scale fisheries are represented in relevant local and national professional associations and fisheries bodies and actively take part in relevant decision-making and fisheries policymaking processes.” All the impact of the AHOY Marina will be directly felt by small scale fisheries in Nauxim, Siridao, Agassaim, Goa Velha, Bambolim, Cacra, Odxel and other villages on the northern bank of Zuari river as well as villages and towns in Southern banks of Zuari river. Yet in none of the decision making bodies connected Nauxim AHOY Marina small scale fisheries were represented at MoEF Expert committee, Board of Trustees at MPT, Goa Investment Promotion Board, Union Ministry of Surface Transport and Goa Fisheries department. Goa Fisheries department is so archaic in functioning that it does not have information as to who is at the receiving end of the water sports in Zuari river after fishermen repeatedly filed complains complaining about water sports boats tearing their fishing nets, creating oil spills and prompting fish migration due to non-stop engine sound in the river near Nauxim-Bambolim. It has taken no steps to form strategy group to enforce SSF guidelines as per requirement under para 13.5 for the Development and application of implementation strategies for the Guidelines.

15.                        Nauxim AHOY Marina is in violation of para 10.5 of SSF Guidelines that requires implementation of holistic and inclusive ecosystem approaches in the fisheries sector. Approach in locating Marina is not holistic, its not inclusive and it is hostile to ecosystem. A.K. Whitfield from South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, South Africa and A. Becker from School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia has jointly published their study titled “Impact of recreational motor boats on fishes : A Review” in Marine Pollution Bulletin Vol. 83 pages 24-31 in 2014. Sharing abstract their study to harm Marina boats and water sports boats could cause to biology and ecology of fish: “A considerable amount of research has been conducted on the impacts of recreational boating activities on fishes but little or no synthesis of the information has been undertaken. This review shows that motor boats impact on the biology and ecology of fishes but the effects vary according to the species and even particular size classes. Direct hits on fishes by propellers are an obvious impact but this aspect has been poorly documented. Alterations in the wave climate and water turbidity may also influence fishes and their habitats, especially submerged and emergent plant beds. Sound generated by boat motors can also influence the communication and behaviour of certain species. Pollution arising from fuel spillages, exhaust emissions and antifouling paints all have detrimental effects on fishes. Finally, the use of recreational boats as vectors of aquatic invasive organisms is very real and has created major problems to the ecology of aquatic systems.”Further Sofia Jain-Schlaepfer, Eric Fakan, Jodie L. Rummer, Mark I. McCormick from ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia together with Stephen D. Simpson from Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Geoffrey Pope, Stocker Road, Exeter EX4 4QD, UK has published their joint study titled “Impact of motorboats on fish embryos depends on engine type” in a Journal named Conservation Physiology Volume 6, 2018. Abstract of their study is reproduced and worth noting as to what could be the impact of motorboats that Marina likely to attract in Zuari and resultant impact on marine ecology. “Human generated noise is changing the natural underwater soundscapes worldwide. The most pervasive sources of  underwater anthropogenic noise are motorboats, which have been found to negatively affect several aspects of fish biology. However, few studies have examined the effects of noise on early life stages, especially the embryonic stage, despite embryo health being critical to larval survival and recruitment. Here, we used a novel setup to monitor heart rates of embryos from the staghorn damselfish (Amblyglyphidodon curacao) in shallow reef conditions, allowing us to examine the effects of in situ boat noise in context with real-world exposure. We found that the heart rate of embryos increased in the presence of boat noise, which can be associated with the stress response. Additionally, we found 2-stroke outboard-powered boats had more than twice the effect on embryo heart rates than did 4-stroke powered boats, showing an increase in mean individual heart rate of 1.9% and 4.6%, respectively. To our knowledge this is the first evidence suggesting boat noise elicits a stress response in fish embryo and highlights the need to explore the ecological ramifications of boat noise stress during the embryo stage. Also, knowing the response of marine organisms caused by the sound emissions of particular engine types provides an important tool for reef managers to mitigate noise pollution.” In this context Marina installation in Zuari river is going to be major set back to ecosystem approach advocated for fisheries. Goa Government through Fisheries department has commissioned study in Zuari river to find out impact of water sports boats on marine ecology and on fishing activities but study is delayed by one year due to lack of finance and file is pending in the Goa Finance Ministry for so long. It is safe to conclude from the way state of affairs are that Goa Government is sabotaging prosperity of small scale fishing activities in a planed manner and we strongly condemn this attitude of Goa Government.

Bharat Mukti Morcha, Goa Unit strongly condemns this draft EIA report and call for immediate cancellation of Public Hearing.
Thanking you in anticipation,

Yours sincerely,
Maggie Silveira

President, Goa Unit

Member of National Council, National Platform for Small Scale Fish Worker (Inland)

Copy to:
Director of Fisheries, Panjim, Goa with a request to follow up and object Nauxim AHOY Marina as well as its Public Hearing

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