Friday, May 30, 2008

Candles lit for Ratan Tata, 70,000 ask him to save Orissa's turtles

20 May 2008
Candles lit for Ratan Tata, 70,000 ask him to save Orissa's turtles

Mumbai, India ­ Over thirty Mumbaikars, Greenpeace volunteers all, tonight lit thousands of candles on the rocks in front of Bakhtawar, Colaba, asking the building’s most famous resident, Mr. Ratan Tata, to shift his company’s upcoming port project from Dhamra in Orissa in order to save the endangered olive ridley sea turtles. The Dhamra port is being built close to the Gahirmatha beach, one of the world’s largest nesting grounds for the species.

The candles symbolized the growing number (70,000 at last count) of Indians who have written to Mr. Tata asking him to relocate the port and not the turtles (1). So far there has been no response from Mr. Tata to this outpouring of public sentiment against the TATA port.

“Mr. Tata has the reputation of a reasonable man who cares for our environment”, said Titus Jebaraj, Greenpeace volunteer, as he lit candles on the sea face. “People have been asking him for several years now to look for an alternative to this destructive port, in the interests of protecting one of the world’s last mass nesting grounds for this enigmatic and peaceful creature, which has been around for millions more years than the TATAs have!”

The Dhamra port is coming up less than 5 km. from the Bhitarkanika Sanctuary (India’s second largest mangrove forest and home to the saltwater crocodile) and less than 15 km. from the nesting beaches of the Gahirmatha Sanctuary. Conservationists and researchers have consistently raised concerns about the port’s impacts on the ecology since it was first proposed in the 1990s.

Mired in controversy, the Dhamra Port area has been denied protection twice now, compromising the local environment and the Olive Ridley Turtles. Existing evidence has proved beyond doubt that turtles inhabit the off-shore waters, while the port site itself has thrown up records of rare species (2).

More recently, international banking giant BNP Paribas has confirmed to Greenpeace that it is no longer refinancing a part of the Dhamra Port. This announcement came after the bank had commissioned an unnamed independent expert to look into environmental and social aspects concerning the project. Greenpeace had advised BNP Paribas that involvement in this project would not be in keeping with the Precautionary Approach, as the environmental and social assessment was not up to international standards (3).

“Scientists are opposed to the port, conservationists are against it, international lending institutions clearly want to protect their reputations, and now thousands of Indians – TATA customers most of them – are asking Mr. Tata to place the survival of this species above increasing TATA profits. What will it take for him to listen?,” asked Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner with Greenpeace.

Close to 70,000 people have now written to Mr. Tata via a cyber action at The letter campaign comes on the heels of over 100 international scientists and turtle researchers expressing their opposition to the port. A number of Indian organizations, including the Wildlife Protection Society of Orissa and the Wildlife Society of Orissa, are also asking Mr. Tata to respect the turtles’ breeding and nesting habitat and find alternatives to the port’s current location.


Anonymous said...


amlansworld said...



Dhmra is one of the most ancient ports in the eastern coast which continued to function till after the British rule when it fell into disuse except for fishing purposes. The Government of Orissa conceived a plan in early nineties to develop it into a modern deep port to cater to the needs of the mineral rich hinterland of Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The nature of cargo of this hinterland called for large size vessels, and consequently deep draft ports for which the existing ports of Haldia and Paradip proved inadequate. A feasibility study was undertaken which finally led to the formation of Dhamra Port Company Limited to undertake the development of the port on a Build, Own, Operate, Share and Transfer (BOOST) basis. Initially, a joint venture of L&T & two foreign companies, DPCL is now a 50:50 joint venture of L&T and Tata Steel.

Situated north of river Dhamra at a place called Doshinga, the Dhamra port has been conceived as a deep draft port which can accommodate super cape size vessels. The project includes construction of a 62 km rail link between Dhamra and Bhadrak on the Howrah – Chennai main line and a jetty of 700 meter in the first phase with fully mechanized facilities for loading and unloading. The project is estimated to cost Rs.2463 crore in the first phase, and more than 25% of the work has already been completed. The port is scheduled to become operational by April 2010. A number of steel plants apart from Tata Steel coming up and planned in the three states of Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal have evinced interest to use the port, especially for import of coking coal and limestone and export of finished steel..

The project has received all statutory clearances including the environment clearance from the Government of India and NOC from the Pollution Control Board of the state government. The clearance had been challenged before the National Environment Appellate Authority on certain grounds including its effect on olive ridley turtles and the NEAA after a visit to the site has upheld the clearance with a clear finding that the place being muddy and silty is unsuitable for turtle nesting.

The olive ridley turtles come in hundreds of thousands to nest along the coast of Orissa. Studies undertaken by Wildlife Institute of India divide the Orissa coast into eight sectors and suggest that turtles nest along all the seven sectors south of river Dhamra either sporadically or en mass, with Gahirmatha, Devi and Rushikulya serving as mass nesting beaches. The only sector of the Orissa coast which is not visited by turtles for nesting is the northern most stretch of Orissa coast which is north of river Dhamra This is because the turtles look for sandy beaches where they can dig holes to hide the eggs whereas the coast north of river Dhamra is muddy and silty. The proposed port is situated in this sector, or in other words, the only sector of Orissa coast which is not visited by turtles. The above was considered by the Empowered Committee which gave the clearance and confirmed by the Appellate Authority which visited the site to verify the truth.

This has however not deterred environmental groups including Greenpeace from raising voices of concern and the port developers have always heeded such voices with open mind. The developers at one stage invited them to undertake further study at the former’s cost and even withheld construction for one full season to facilitate such study. The ones that did agree to undertake such study subsequently backed out, presumably under pressure of those who do not want the truth to be revealed so that the campaign against the project can continue. The developers on their own have invited IUCN, world’s premier scientific body for conservation of wildlife to help the developers assess the situation, identify potential areas of possible effect and take adequate precautions. The IUCN have identified such areas and have been helping the port to adopt appropriate dredging methods and lighting manuals. The port authorities with IUCN have also undertaken an awareness campaign amongst fishermen for using TEDs in fishing nets which is the real cause of large scale turtle mortality in the state.

The port developers fail to understand the recently intensified campaign of Greenpeace. The Greenpeace were invited for discussion at Mumbai in January last when they had summarized in their own words their concerns into seven points. The DPCL had in a detailed reply answered these points. A perusal of the Greenpeace concerns and DPCL replies which can be seen at the DPCL website would suggest that there is no unresolved issue which would justify such a belligerent campaign with acrimonious attack on personalities. A lot of disinformation in the form of untruths and half truths are being systematically circulated through the internet to make bloggers and e-group members sign petitions at the click of a button which do not reflect their informed opinion. A large number of these reach us through the host address (i.e. Greenpeace)only without the mail address of the sender so that we cannot directly reply to them and let them know the truth. DPCL would like to make it be known that it is fully aware of and sensitive to its social and environmental responsibilities and would continue to undertake the task of building the public infrastructure it has taken upon itself in the best spirit of sustainable development.

roopa said...

Re the press note at the end that justifies the port, I want to ask you "have you seen Green peace's video "the truth and only the truth?"

Norbert said...


Thanks for blogging about our campaign to protect Olive Ridley turtles' habitat from Tata's destructive port at Dhamra. We need your help again now! Could you please email me? Will let you know whats happening, what we're planning to do and how you can help us.


vadivel said...

The fundamental rights of [humanity] are, first: the right of habitation; second, the right to move freely; third, the right to the soil and subsoil, and to the use of it; fourth, the right of freedom of labor and of exchange; fifth, the right to justice; sixth, the right to live within a natural national organization; and seventh, the right to peace should understand that human value is as important as turtles,TATA as taken necessary clearance from the concerned authority for construction of the dhamra port ,since the distance is 25kms from the breeding place it wont affect the breeding of the turtles,so we all should stand up and support the construction of dhamra port.

santhanam said...

We will not enjoy security without development, we will not enjoy development without security, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights,green peace should go far long term conversation strategies as u have mentioned , it looks green peace has personal vendetta against the TATA ,it is not settling the matter amicably it is making hue and cry to get international recognition ,dont bogged down by this threat by this vested intrested ,finish dhamra project and help the poverty stricken orissa.

siddesh said...

there is no civilzation without culture and no culture without civilzation tata port is really going to help the orissa in many ways, tata has taken help to create enviormental standard from International Union for Conservation of Nature ,so the tata is trying is best to safe gaurd the enviorment and helping the people of orissa ,there is no need to cry foul for the construction of dhamra project ,we should stand by tata and help in completing the construction of port.

Anonymous said...

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.TATA is exactly doing the same. its withstanding all the unjust resistance given by greenpeace.tata should stand on the obligation to construct the dhamra port for the people od orissa .since it is following necessary guidelines imposed by the enviormental board and the government of india,its is well known fact that the port is coming 30kms away from the breeding place,its not going to affect the breeding in any way,green peace should understanding that the human life is as precious as turtles,it should sit and settle the matter with the necessary authorities and and should not be a hinderance to dhamra port.Criticism is prejudice made plausible.

sushmita said...

The right to development is the measure of the respect of all other human rights.That should be our aim: a situation in which all individuals are enabled to maximize their potential, and to contribute to the evolution of society as a whole.TATA has gone to all the norms and regulations required to built the port ,it will defnitely provide good infrastructure and also will provide employment,since tata is a prestigious company it wont work against the enviorment and the construction is going to be 25 kms away from the breeding place and i am sure that it wont affect the breeding of the turtles ,i fully support the dhamra project

Tina said...

"It is sad that we first decide a villain and then find the proof to crucify them, when our concern could be about the turtles and people of Orissa and finding out ways so that both prosper." - Cyber activist blogger's viewpoint on Greenpeace and the turtles

RMegha said...

Dhamra Port Project is not only concern about the Orissa's economy or the society’s betterment but they are also concern about the environmental protection. A very nice video which you will definitely like to share with others

Aakash said...

Light and lighting are crucial for any industrial project, both during construction and the

operational phase. IUCN lighting experts and DPCL are also taking care of implementing

lighting safeguards, which would also be turtle safe lighting and would be low pressure

sodium vapor lights which have been proven by research to be the least disorienting to

turtle hatchlings.


Jessica said...

"Expressing anguish over the Green Peace movement's single point agenda on stopping work on Dhamra Port project in Orissa, Tata Steel Chairman Ratan Tata reiterated that the company would in no way take up any project hazardous to Olive Ridley Turtles"

Mr Ratan Tata Chairman of TATA Steel to Greenpeace activists:
"I invite you for a discussion and a visit to the port site in Dhamra."

Tata proved that Tata was always willing to have a best solution for country's industrial & economical development and they were always ready for solutions.

Tina said...

Greenpeace, the professed global environment campaign organization, in an instance of unmatched brazenness, falsified the report prepared by North Orissa University on Biodiversity Assessment of Dhamra Estuary. As a result, a group of forty MPs wrote to the Ministry Of Environment and Forests to call on the bluff of Greenpeace. The Orissa Govt. therefore initiated action against Greenpeace proposing a ban on all its activities in the state.

However, after the 102nd Annual General Meeting of Tata Steel in Mumbai, Greenpeace unabashedly has started their tricks once again. This time it has managed to rope in Retd Admiral Ramdas and his wife Mrs. Lalita Ramdas on the issue of Dhamra port but as far as scientific reasoning goes, the issues raised are totally unfounded. We can just hope that the visit of the Ramdas’ to the site will help to stop meaningless agitations and clear the situation once and for all.

Meghna said...

Tata Steel has always maintained a strong focus on environment sustainability and environment management in all its operations. We have seen that in the issues regarding the construction of a deep-sea port at Dhamra in Orissa, the Company has been forthcoming in sharing the concerns of activists and ever willing to implement practical means of mitigating any adverse impact of port construction on the marine eco-system in that area. The Company has held at least eight to nine sessions of meetings with Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in the matter of Dhamra Port. Tata Steel has made it abundantly clear that it is willing to have further discussions in order to alleviate any unnecessary doubts that the dissenters may yet nurture against the project.

Here is an outline of events as they happened till date.

The JV agreement with L&T to build a port at Dhamra was signed by Tata Steel in 2004. At the very onset, discussions were initiated with WWF- India, BNHS, Mr Kartik Shankar, Mr Bittu Sehagal and others.

The company was duly concerned with the objections raised by different environmental organizations and agreed not to begin construction work till a detailed study was complete. Responding wholeheartedly to the demands of activists, Tata Steel agreed for a proposal for a further study of the impact of the port on turtles and on the marine and island eco-system.

In 2005, BNHS and WWF-India, with an unprecedented suddenness, reversed their stand and refused to conduct the assessment study as they had promised. However, the organisations did not provide any reasons for their turncoat attitude.

In March 06, in an address to ED, Greenpeace India, the Chairman of TATA Sons made it clear that commitments were meant to be honoured at both ends. The Company had fulfilled their promise by withholding construction work for the proposed study, which never actually took off. The MD of Tata Steel also met Greenpeace officials in their Bangalore office.

In January 2008 a meeting was subsequently conducted between Greenpeace and Tata Steel and a list of concerns was presented by Greenpeace with regard to Dhamra Port. DPCL on 8th March 2008, gave a detailed and comprehensive explanation to all the points raised by Greenpeace. Subsequent objections were allayed on 3rd May 2008.

Further on 23rd October 2008, MD, Tata Steel along with senior executives of Tata Steel, L&T and DPCL met Greenpeace, BNHS, WPSI, Wild Society of Orissa, Sanctuary Asia and other environmental organizations to discuss the concerns and the way forward on the subject with regard to Dhamra Port.

A team of Company Executives and environment experts visited Bhitarakanika National Park, Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and the Dhamra Port site on February 2009, supervising the ongoing dredging operations.

Meghna said...

On fourth meeting on 20th Feb 2009 in Kolkata, Tata Steel, L&T and DPCL agreed to conduct the additional biological impact assessment in close collaboration with NGOs’ of environmental organizations team led by a mutually agreed upon Scientists team. However the NGOs’ in a further instance of unreasonableness, insisted upon complete cessation of on-going dredging operation of Dhamra Port even before the commencement of study. However DPCL, Tata Steel and L&T team showed it preparedness to adjust the schedule of works including dredging to facilitate the study after due recommendation by the Scientists team.

The 102nd AGM of Tata Steel had been attended by a number of Greenpeace activists who happen to be shareholders of the Company as well. The AGM highlighted Tata Steel’s interests in further conference with Greenpeace in the matter of the port in addition to an invitation to activists to visit the port site yet again.

From the sequence of events, it is absolutely clear that the only thing that Greenpeace wants is to prolong the situation of deadlock in the matter of Dhamra Port. Perhaps, due to a lack of other valid issues on their agenda, Greenpeace is carrying on with a stance of stiffness, lest they have to give in to valid scientific reasoning. The only deduction that may be drawn from Greenpeace’s lack of willingness in discussion is that they have lost their own conviction long before and fear that they will have to admit it as such in an open forum. It is indeed a very sorry state of affairs in which progress is kept at stake and the environment is being used as a pawn by people who profess themselves to be friends of the environment.

Aakansha said...

Some shareholders of Tata Steel brought up the concerns raised by Greenpeace about the impact of the Dhamra Port on the nesting habitat of Olive Ridley Turtles at Tata Steel’s 102nd AGM in Mumbai on the 27th August’09 and requested the Chairman of Tata Steel, Mr Ratan Tata, to discuss the Dhamra Port issue with them.

Mr Tata responded immediately to their concerns and said that my invitation is “ to you Admiral Ramdas” and anybody else who would be interested and Mr Muthuraman would make the arrangements for you all to take the time to satisfy yourselves in terms of what we are doing.
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