While Seabird is being hailed by most as Asia's largest naval base and one of India's most sophisticated projects, few are heeding what the locals, environmentalists, marine experts and one of navy's own hydrographers have had to say about the project. Those who have loved the natural aesthetic charm of the Karwar coast and its mini islands cannot but feel sorry to see it being put on stake for the navy's sake.
"There is a limit to the sacrifice being asked from Karwar district which has given its forests, rivers and land for the development of many dams, nuclear power plants, factories. Now you're taking away our sea, which was a source of livelihood for 20,000 people. This project has taken a toll of 777 acres of natural forests," says Pandurang Hegde, an environmentalist and disciple of Sunderlal Bahuguna.
Prof V.N. Nayak of the department of marine biology at the Karnataka University bemoans the loss of the Project Seabird site, which he considers one of the hotspots of biodiversity. "As a marine biologist, we have lost one of the best collection points after Okha in Gujarat on the west coast."
Not only that, a road on the seashore and residential blocks within 200 metres of the coast openly flout crz regulations. Officer's quarters too are very close to the high tide level. Nor does the navy seem to have factored in sea erosion during the monsoons. In the event of a tsunami, warn the experts, it would be a repeat of the Car Nicobar islands tragedy. "Fortunately, they have some island protection. But you never know how the sea will behave. Also, three hillocks in the vicinity have been removed to carry out construction work. Worse, the most beautiful island of Netrani is being used for naval exercises. It is being shelled badly. The fate of the Anjideep islands which protected two beaches and all intertidal fauna in that area is also bad,"...