Friday, 1 October 2010

Greenpeace continues protest against Dhamra port

accuses Environmental Ministry of double standards

                                pic: Greenpeace

Environmental group Greenpeace has alleged that the Ministry of Environment and Forests is displaying double standards in Orissa: although it has stymied Vedanta’s mining activities in Niyamgiri in eastern Orissa, the Ministry is doing nothing to safeguard sensitive ecological areas against the joint Tata Steel/Larsen and Toubro Dhamra port project in the same state.

Greenpeace has been campaigning against the Dhamra project for more than five years now. The port is scheduled to begin operations at the end of the year, according to the Tatas. Greenpeace activist Ashish Fernandes now says, “The Government is selectively applying forest and environmental laws to corporations.”

Greenpeace is fighting the project because it says that the port is too close to the breeding ground of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles, and another similar project is home to the saltwater crocodiles. In any case, says Greenpeace, the entire project is situated in ecologically sensitive wildlife areas and should be stopped. It says that government released documents clearly show that the port is in violation of the Forest Conservation act; it says it has documents from the Orissa authorities to prove this, quoting a report by Mr JK Tewari of the Environmental Ministry’s eastern office as saying, "It is clear that Dhamra Port project site was never developed as a Port and is a part of the protected forest under the Kanika Protected Forest [Orissa]."

A 2009 Supreme Court ruling had referred the entire matter to a committee, which agreed with the Government’s stand that no laws had been violated. The government had submitted to the Supreme Court an affidavit saying that the project is not built on forest land, something that Greenpeace aggressively disputes.

The website of the Dhamra Port claims that the port area is “30 kms away from nesting area by sea and 15 kms as the crow flies”, and that findings show that it is sufficiently away from the limits of both the Gahirmatha Sanctuary and National Marine Sanctuary. Critics say that Greenpeace wants to compare the Vedanta mining episode with the Dhamra project in order to give fresh impetus to their protests. It also hopes to get Environmental Minister Jairam Ramesh to react to the allegations.

Meanwhile, the first phase of the port is nearly complete. Nevertheless, Greenpeace hopes that the Environmental Ministry will stall the port development now. "For years, we have had this 'fait accompli' situation in which big companies would simply create huge constructions in violation of environmental laws and later pay a small penalty to regularise it. Vedanta was the first case where the minister broke with this tradition. But we are not sure why the same yardstick is not being used against the Dhamra project. If you can shut down Vedanta project for building without getting forest clearance, you should be able to punish Dhamra as well," says Fernandes.

"It is a matter of fairness, if you are applying one law for Vedanta, you must apply the same to other groups also."



  1. The Lies of Greenpeace on Dhamra stands exposed ONCE AGAIN ~

    It has already been proved more than once that Greenpeace would not stop from resorting to the vilest means to attract publicity to any campaign they have started. Even if that campaign may not have any element of justification to it whatsoever. In the matter of port construction at Dhamra too, the NGO has resorted to meaningless emotional outbursts without heeding to any scientific reasoning. Apart from publishing a falsified report on its website, for which it faced strict consequences from the Orissa Government, Greenpeace has contributed precious little to the cause of the environment.

    This time, the lies of Greenpeace stand exposed yet once again. A letter of Government of Orissa, from year 2000 clearly states that the port area of Orissa does not come under any forestland. Therefore there has not been any violation of the provisions mentioned in Forest Conservation Act. This confirmation has been received in 2000, at a time when Tata Steel had not been a part of the venture at all. It is a definite proof that Greenpeace has misrepresented facts from the beginning. They have wanted to prolong the agitation and conveniently overlooked the fact that the actual port site at Dhamra is far removed from the nesting habitat of the Olive Ridley Turtles.

    It is really time for Greenpeace to curb their lying habits and become more responsible in matters concerning the environment.

  2. The Dhamra Port Project in my opinion is not only one of the most pathbreaking industrial initiatives for the State of Orissa but also one of the most responsibly undertaken. For quite some time, dissenters like Greenpeace have been raising voice against port development on the grounds that the nesting of Olive Ridley Trurtles would be adversely affected. It has been proved beyond doubt, both scientifically and by Nature's own rules, that such a fear is absolutely unfounded. The activities at Dhamra stringently follow rules and norms set down by IUCN and here several measures have been employed in order to safeguard the nesting habitat of turtles, including the use of turtle deflectors and special turtle-friendly lighting at the port. Also, the main fact is that the actual port site is far removed from the nesting beaches and lie beyond two river mouths that create a natural barrier. The Port Project has also been welcomed by the people of the region as it has brought about significant improvement in their socio-economic condition and holds more promises for the Future. In both 2009 and 2010, the beaches of Gahirmatha have seen turtles flocking in record numbers, perhaps with the mission to prove that nature and industry can always co-exist peacefully if proper accountability is maintained. Check out this video - to know more about the Port and also about Arribada.