Tarun Nair 0

India's steel will for marine biodiversity

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To, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State, Ministry of Environment and Forests Sir, As scientists, turtle biologists, conservationists and citizens from around the world concerned with the decline of marine biodiversity, we, the undersigned urge you to heed our concerns regarding the proposed port construction near Paradip, Orissa by the South Korean company POSCO. The POSCO marine terminal site location is at the Jatadhar river mouth, 12 kilometres south of the Paradip port and a few miles north of the Devi river mouth, which is an important olive ridley mass nesting ground. The reasons that we deem the port at this site unsuitable are: 1) Dredging of the sea floor to accommodate the port will completely modify the marine ecosystem, affecting already declining fish stocks in the region. 2) Close proximity to the sea turtle congregation zone with an expected port traffic of 25 – 30 million tones will spell disaster for mass nesting turtles 3) Proximity to the mass nesting beaches of the Devi River Mouth will create a large disturbance both on land and in the water, with danger of contamination from oil spills or other chemical leakages. 4) Illumination from the port will discourage nesting by adult female turtles 5) Turtle hatchlings which use light to orient themselves towards the sea will be disoriented by the port’s illumination and will find themselves stranded on the land. 6) The only assessment of the project was of poor quality. To see an appraisal of the original EIA prepared by Ms. Dastur Consultants for POSCO please see http://www.cseindia.org/node/1813 7) Multiplied impacts from multiple infrastructure projects on the Orissa coast threaten the olive ridley turtles, a species already vulnerable to extinction. In view of the above mentioned reasons, as well as India’s stand on the conservation of sea turtles and their habitat through the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, Indian Ocean – South East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding and the Convention on Migratory Species, we request you to prevent the industrialization of Orissa’s fragile coastal ecosystem. We hope that you will treat our objections to the proposed POSCO project as serious, and prevent the further degradation of the marine ecosystem. Sincerely,

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