Greenpeace activists blockade TATA office, demand the Company keeps promise to save turtles

MRA Marg Police picked up 4 activists

Press release - July 17, 2007
MUMBAI, India — In the absence of evidence that the TATAs will honour their commitment towards protecting their habitat, the 'olive ridley sea turtles' intensified their protest today by directly taking the issue to Bombay House, the headquarters of the TATA group. Three 'turtles' carrying a huge metal sign that read 'TATA – Turtle Hazard' attached themselves to the entrance to Bombay House and vowed to stay there till the TATAs responded. MRA Marg police picked up three volunteers and Sanjiv Gopal, the oceans campaigner for Greenpeace from the spot.

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. (1) 

"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 Greenpeace.

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,



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

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