Greenpeace 'turtles' protest TATA Steel's involvement in the Dhamra Port Project, Orissa, by blockading the entrance to Bombay House, TATA's head office. The Dhamra port is coming up near one of the world's largest nesting grounds for the olive ridley sea turtle.
The turtles had earlier 'sought insurance' from TATA-AIG and
occupied the pool at Taj Lands End to highlight their plight and
remind the TATAs of their company's promise to protect them.
The 'turtles' were there to demand the TATAs drop their plans to
build a controversial port at Dhamra, Orissa. The port is to be
located adjacent to the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, one of the
world's largest mass nesting sites for the olive ridley turtles.
Its location has been a matter of concern to conservationists for
several years, as well as fisher groups such as the National
Fishworkers' Forum and the Orissa Traditional Fishworkers Union.
The port is being built by the Dhamra Port Company Limited (DPCL)
which is co-owned by TATA Steel and L&T.
A Greenpeace-commissioned biodiversity assessment, released in
June, has recorded the carcasses of over 2,000 dead turtles on and
around the port site, indicating the presence of turtles in the off
shore waters near the port, though the area is not a nesting site.
The study has also discovered rare species on the port site itself.
"Mr. Ratan Tata and Mr. B. Muthuraman had both promised that the
TATAs would never harm the turtles or the environment, and that
they would reconsider the project if there was evidence of the
ecological significance of the area. This evidence now exists. The
TATAs must keep their promise and 'Walk the Talk' by withdrawing
from the Dhamra project", said Sanjiv Gopal, Oceans Campaigner with
Following the release of the biodiversity assessment report,
DPCL and the Government of Orissa alleged that Greenpeace had
'doctored' the report (2). These allegations were proved to be
baseless and malafide by Greenpeace, which has made public
correspondence with the researchers to show that their informed
consent was obtained prior to report publication. (3)
The Environment Impact Assessment, on the basis of which this
project was cleared by the government, has been exposed as severely
flawed and inadequate (4). Greenpeace believes that the manner in
which these clearances were granted needs to be re-examined in the
light of the new evidence thrown up by the study. The TATAs have
failed to respond to the findings of the biodiversity assessment,
released over a month ago.
"Will Mr. Ratan Tata keep his word?" asked G.
Ananthapadmanabhan, Executive Director of Greenpeace India . "The
evidence that the TATAs sought is on the table. If the TATAs want
to maintain their reputation for being sensitive to social and
environmental concerns - a reputation built by stalwarts like JRD
Tata - they have no choice but to withdraw from this ecologically
disastrous project. Only this can keep the TATA legacy intact."
For further information, contact
Sanjiv Gopal, Oceans Campaigner +91 98455 35416
Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner +91 99801 99380, npeace.org
Saumya Tripathy, Greenpeace Communications +91 93438 62212
Notes to Editor
(1) The biodiversity assessment was conducted by herpetologist and member of the IUCN's Amphibian Specialist Group Dr. S.K. Dutta of the North Orissa University. It recorded the presence of over 2,000 turtle carcasses on the port site, probably victims of mechanized fishing. Other significant findings include a large population of horseshoe crabs and rare frog and snake species, including first time records for mainland India. The complete report is available at www.greenpeace.org/india/press/reports/greenpeace-biodiversity
(2) Refer to www.greenpeace.org/india/press/reports/link for details on the link between TATA-owned DPCL and the allegations against Greenpeace.
(3) Refer to http://www.greenpeace.org/india/press/releases/greenpeace-dismisses-allegatio for details and annexures containing evidence establishing the allegations against Greenpeace as baseless.
(4) The Greenpeace critique of the 1997 Dhamra Port EIA can be found at www.greenpeace.org/india/press/reports/critique-of-the-environmental