Protest to save olive ridleys

August 21, 2008 12:00 am | Updated October 09, 2016 02:57 pm IST

Rahi Gaikwad

Dhamra project in Orissa a threat to environment, says Greenpace

Mumbai: Greenpeace activists sat in protest outside ‘Bombay House’, headquarters of the Tata Group here, on Wednesday to draw the attention of its chairman Ratan Tata to the impact of the Dhamra Deepwater Port project in Orissa on the environment.

Tata Steel is in a joint venture in the project which, according to Greenpeace, will endanger olive ridley turtles in the area by damaging their nesting ground and wrecking biodiversity.

Around 70 protesters formed a human chain, their hands fastened with thick pipes. Some wore green turtle costumes. With juice bottles strapped to their bodies, they sat at each of the three entrances to the building. They sported the slogans, ‘Turtles over Turnover’ and ‘Extinction is Forever’. The protests lasted for three hours. The police later removed the activists.

The activists wanted open talks with Mr. Tata. “We have sent several mails to the Tatas, but they have been avoiding us,” said an activist.

While Greenpeace had been voicing concern over the project for four years, there was no upfront dialogue between the two sides, said Sanjiv Gopal, campaign manager, Oceans, Greenpeace.

He said that Tata Steel earlier stated that in the light of due evidence, the project would not go ahead. However, the work was progressing. A Greenpeace study highlighted the ecological threats but the company now said it would try to control damage. This was a harmful shift in position, said Mr. Gopal.

Tata Steel statement

Tata Steel, however, condemned the protest. In a statement, it said that based on various studies, “it can be clearly established that the port limits of the upcoming Dhamra port are clearly outside the turtle nesting area as well as the National Marine Sanctuary and the Bhitarkanika National Park. This has also been confirmed by the National Environmental Appellate Authority, who had visited the site. Tata Steel has had discussions with Greenpeace on the Dhamra port and the issue of turtles. All issues stand clarified. Tata Steel would be willing to engage in further discussions, should Greenpeace desire to do so.”

Scientists and academicians have petitioned Orissa against the Dhamra project.

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