Mumbai, June 26, 2007: Under threat of displacement by Tata's mega port at Dhamra in Orissa, four 'Olive Ridley Sea Turtles' sought refuge in the swimming pool of the Taj Land's End Hotel (a Tata concern) at Bandra. Tongue in cheek, the turtles opened a banner that read 'Tata, No Room for Turtles?' a pun on the hotel's slogan 'No Room for the Ordinary'.
Tata Steel's proposed port is less than 15 km. from the world's largest mass nesting site at Gahirmatha, where up to 500,000 turtles have been known to nest in a single year. Tata's has always maintained that turtles are not found near the port site, and if evidence of their presence was recorded, they would reconsider the port. In March 2007, a study conducted by renowned herpetologist and member of the IUCN's Amphibian Specialist Group Dr. S.K. Dutta unequivocally established the presence of turtles in the offshore waters near the port. (1) The study also recorded other rare species on the port site itself, which have been ignored in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) done for the project. (2)
Greenpeace has been in touch with the Tatas since May 2007, on this issue, but the points raised by the study have yet to be addressed. Tata Steel has continued to claim publicly that the port will not impact turtles, though they have not been able to provide any evidence for this statement. Further, the company has chosen to ignore specific scientific concerns raised by Greenpeace, through the Critique of the Dhamra EIA report as well as the findings of the biodiversity assessment which Greenpeace had commissioned.
"The TATAs are jeopardizing their reputation for integrity by refusing to address this issue ina direct and straightforward manner. Greenpeace is calling on Ratan Tata to walk the talk and act with the integrity that JRD Tata and the other legends of the family would be proud of. If the Tatas truly value our country's environment, they must pull out of the Dhamra port project", said Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner with Greenpeace India.
For more information contact:
Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner +91 99801 99380,
Saumya Tripathy, Greenpeace Communications +91 93438 62212 firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) The biodiversity assessment conducted by Dr. S.K. Dutta recorded the presence of over 2,000 turtle carcasses on the port site, probably victims on mechanized fishing in the waters off the port site. Other significant findings include a large population of horseshoe crabs and rare frog and snake species that are the the first confirmed records from mainland India. The complete report is available at www.greenpeace.org/india/press/reports
(2) The Dhamra Port EIA has been scientifically critiqued by Greenpeace scientists from the School of Biosciences, Exeter University and has been found to be fundamentally flawed. This critique is available at www.greenpeace.org/india/press/reports