Wildlife Blog

Endangered Sea Turtle Threatened by Port Construction

Photo: Dr. Bivash Pandav

Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, located on the coast of Orissa, India, is the largest of only three nesting areas for Olive Ridley sea turtles, which are considered endangered by the IUCN.  In fact, the mass nesting (or arribadas) include 200,000 – 500,000 female turtles coming on to the shore. [Watch a video of hatchlings traveling back to sea]

Now, in addition to the dangers of netting and trawlers, these endangered animals could be confronted with another threat to their survival. Tata Steel and Larsen & Toubro are scheduled to build a major sea port just north of the sanctuary at the mouth of the Dharma River. If the construction takes place, then dredging, increased shipping traffic, artificial lights, oil spills, and other pollutants would be brought to the area causing a disruption to ecological balance of the area’s waters.

To learn more and get involved, see:
The Wild Foundation’s Olive Ridley Turtle Page
The Wild Foundation’s Olive Ridley Turtle Blog Update

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25 thoughts on “Endangered Sea Turtle Threatened by Port Construction

  1. Well mate I hope we all know that

    The port site is quite a distance away from the nesting.

    The nesting has happened despite construction.

    It seems like the port is more of a problem to some people than Turtles

  2. The need is to make a team of people who can clean the clouded minds in greenpeace people who makeup a permanent opinion about an issue and make continuous efforts to prove it right.

  3. I think the issue though is not just that the construction would stymie the breeding behavior of the turtles, it was that when the port was constructed, it would bring increased shipping traffic to the surrounding waters. So along with the ships would come artificial lights, oil spills, and other pollutants to the area.

  4. Green peace is concerned about the Olive Ridleys. But along with it why is it not concerned about the people of Orissa

  5. With the immature attitude of the Greenpeace its difficult for us to believe in NGOs. Greenpeace is supposed to help the nature go green but not at the cost of human lives

  6. Orissa has been affected badly in the past by natural disasters like floods leading to heavy loss of life and property. If people are getting a chance to get back to there life and make it better by the TATAs project then we should support TATA. We should be true Indians and help our neighbouring states prosper and grow. TATA is helping both the species and not putting any in danger. Greenpeace needs to take a few lessons from them.

  7. The facts are clear dredging has had no impact on the nesting this year. In fact thousands of turtles have nested this yr and shame on you green peace as the turtles them selves have proved you all wrong… like someone earlier commented Grow up green peace
    Orissa in the recent yrs have gone through hell, the TATA’s r in fact doing a great job.

  8. Greenpeace reminds me of my high school as they are exactly like a bunch of bullies who used to go around the school telling students that if they don’t do as they say they will have the worst days ahead of them going ahead in school

  9. TATAs not going to jeopardies their project after progressing. They must have been aware of the whole nesting thing they started with their project. They have taken measures thats why nesting continued last year. So what is really the issue with Green peace. One wouldn’t know because they refuse to negotiate either

  10. agree that we cant continue to exist if we harm environment, or if we go against the nature, but it does not mean that the reason of protecting the environment or other creatures, should stop the development of mankind. Man has always achieved something best out of the resources of nature, and it should go on and of course without harming the nature, so both the organizations should together unravel this issue without causing loss to both mankind and environment
    I want to know why Greenpeace is being inhuman and not thinking about the people of Orissa.

  11. Check this press release which is worth reading.

    Press Release from North orissa University

    It has come to our notice that Greenpeace India have placed in their website a report under the title “Bio-diversity Assessment of Dhamra Port Site and Surroundings Areas, Orissa”. The cover page of the report says that the report has been prepared by the North Orissa University. We would like to clarify that no report under the above mentioned title has been prepared by the North Orissa Unversity.

    North Orissa University had prepared a report under the title “Rapid Bo-diversity Assessment of Dhamra Estuary, Orissa-India” and the same was submitted to Greenpeace India who were the funding agency.

    A comparison of the report as it appears in the website of Greenpeace India and the authentic report of North Orissa University reveals that the Greenpeace India have doctored the authentic report by way of changing the title and its contents for motives best known to them.

    We wish to further clarify that the impact of Dhamra Port on the environment and bio-diversity of Dhamra Estuary was not within the scope of our study.

    For the sake of convenience we are enclosing herewith a copy of the authentic report of the University and the report as placed by the Greenpeace India in their website along with a comparison in a tabular form which would clearly indicate the changes/deletions/additions and interpolations made by Greenpeace India.

    To conclude we take serious exception to such unethical conduct by Greenpeace India.

    Prof. Sudarsan Nanda,
    Vice Chancellor,
    North Orissa University

  12. Greenpeace has been variously criticized for being too radical, too alarmist, or too mainstream, for using methods bordering on eco-terrorism, for having itself caused environmental damage in its activities, for taking positions which are not environmentally or economically sound, and for valuing non-human causes over human causes. These criticisms have been made by governments, industrial and political lobbyists and other environmental groups.

    Greenpeace Lies About Apple

    Greenpeace Lies About Dhamra Port

    Is that like Greenpeace always targets big corporate giant to keep them under pressure and earn money from them ultimately?

    I wonder why a non-governmental organization for the protection and conservation of the environment do not like to protect the human beings. I have found in few countries innocent & poor people require protections, importance more than animals.

    Why they have been kept ignored and leave behind by this type of so called good organizations.


  13. “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

  14. 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.

    Source: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=296928&id=168851070709

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

    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.

  17. 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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