The lake is already under threat due to proliferating industries and SEZs

The Pulicat lake bird sanctuary, the second largest brackish water lake in India, proves to be among the immediate hurdles for the proposed Dugarajapatnam major port near Sullurupeta in Nellore district here.

As the Central Government has made an announcement regarding the implementation of the port, efforts began to pave the way for launching the project a few months back. A difficulty arose in the beginning when the Sriharikota space centre had some objections to the location of the new port in its neighbourhood.

However, the Government reportedly prevailed upon the space centre on the plea that the port activities would be designed in such a manner that there would be no disturbance to the launch of any space mission from Sriharikota.

As regards the Pulicat lake, which is located within 2 k.m. range of Dugarajapatnam port site, a clear hurdle lies in the form of buffer zone of the lake within which the proposed port falls. There is no clarity as yet on whether the eco-sensitive buffer area of 10 k.m. around the lake would be reduced to 2 k.m. to clear this hurdle.

Sources in the wildlife division (Forest Department) say that there was already a lot of concern over the possible damage to the overall eco-system of Pulicat on account of proliferating industries and special economic zones on either side of the National Highway 5 in the vicinity of the lake.

It was in this background that the creation and protection of eco-fragile buffer zone assumed paramount importance.

If the port project has to be implemented, there is the tough task of getting environmental clearances from the Central Government. The highly sensitive clearances regarding reduction in buffer zones would have to be sanctioned at the highest level.

The selection of Dugarajapatnam here for setting up the major port came as a surprise on the ground that the central officials initially made indications of preferring Ramayapatnam in the neighbouring Prakasam district. Nakkapalli in Visakhapatnam was also considered for the port.