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Rediff.com  » Business » Greenpeace to intensify drive against Dhamra port

Greenpeace to intensify drive against Dhamra port

Last updated on: September 15, 2008 12:35 IST

Despite the allegations from various quarters that it has twisted facts and forged reports about the presence of rare Olive Ridley turtles near Dhamra coast in Orissa -- the site where Tatas with partner L&T are developing Rs 2,400-crore (Rs 24 billion) port -- global environmental NGO Greenpeace is bracing for its next phase of action, which may well lead to a Singur-like situation.

Greenpeace India plans to intensify its campaign against the setting up of the project in Dhamra by holding protest meetings and using its international reach to demonstrate against the Tatas. 

Sources in Greenpeace said the representatives of different environmental NGOs are meeting Tata Steel MD B Muthuraman next month.

Representatives of various other environmental groups and stakeholders, including Wild Life Protection Society of India, Conservation Action Trust, Sanctuary Asia, Kalpavriksh, National Fish Workers' Forum and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, are expected to attend the meeting, tentatively on October 17.

"We want a proper impact analysis study to be conducted in a transparent manner involving all the stakeholders who have been opposing the project due to environment issues.

"We will ask Tatas to justify why in spite of their past promises and commitments they are going ahead with the project which will be an environmental hazard risking the lives of many rare marine species like fish, crabs, turtles and frogs," said Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace India. 

He said if the environmentalists fail to get a satisfactory reply, the campaign will be intensified and every effort will me made to stop the project.

"We would make every effort to internationalise the issue using our presence over 35-odd
countries globally," he added.

Allegations of Greenpeace's tampering of the report to prove the presence of rare turtles in Dhamra came when the North Orissa University  alleged in a press conference that the NGO had tampered the report of the survey conducted by its professor SK Dutta.

Although the Tatas have not come in the open supporting the claim made by the university, sources in Tata Steel said: "The evidence referred to by Greenpeace about the presence of turtles, namely a study conducted by SK Dutta of North Orissa University, is mired in controversy.

"There are many such crucial changes by Greenpeace in its published report, which raises serious questions about its
credibility."

However, Greenpeace says the final report which was delivered to it was prepared after a series of mails between the university and Greenpeace, which gives no scope to tamper the report. Refuting the varsity's allegation, Greenpeace says that both the university and Dutta were very much aware of the purpose for which Greenpeace had commissioned the report.

"NOU waited for three weeks to allege that the report has been tampered, which itself proves that this is a ploy by certain people to tarnish the image of Greenpeace. The report given to university is very much the same except that we have made certain recommendations on the basis of the finding, which is there on our website," said Greenpeace India spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Dhamra Port Company Ltd authorities have stated that the construction work of the project is moving quite fast.

About 90 per cent of the 900 acres required for the project have already been acquired by the company, and almost 30 per cent of the work has already been completed.

Besides, DPCL has roped in global environmental organisation - International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) - to get its assistance in developing environmental standards during the construction.

"The DPCL scientists are monitoring the dredging work being present on the site. Based on their suggestions, we have installed turtle defectors on the dredgers and installing turtle-friendly lighting in the port area," said a Tata Steel
spokesperson in Orissa.

Bibhu Ranjan Mishra in Bangalore
Source: