Closing the Enforcement Gap: A community led groundtruthing of the expansion of a National Highway Project in Uttara Kannada
Linear projects like highways have the potential to change existing land use of large areas. These changes are not limited only to the stretches made for transportation of vehicles. The effects of construction are also visible on landscapes on both sides of highways. This study presents the findings of a two-year long groundtruthing study carried out between June 2016 and August 2018 along 187 kilometres of National Highway 66. The study is a collaborative effort of the Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Programme and communities from towns and villages situated between Karwar and Kundapur, especially the 27 Panchayats, in the district of Uttara Kannada in Karnataka. The study presents evidence of non-compliance of environmental safeguards resulting in social, economic and health impacts on the local communities in the project areas. It also highlights several aspects that were not taken into account in the project’s impact assessments. The study includes a broad assessment of the project’s scale of direct impacts.
During the course of the study, the following types of non-compliance were identified:
- Permissions for blasting, groundwater and river water withdrawal were not taken
- Dumping soil on wetlands and creeks caused flooding and salt water intrusion
- The construction caused soil erosion and landslides along embankments
- Non-submission of six-monthly compliance reports by the project proponent
- Non-compliance of other laws and compensation agreements
The report includes a case study of a stone crusher unit operating in Bogribail village and causing water and dust pollution.