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TATA’S Dhamra port EIA seriously flawed
New Delhi, India — Greenpeace today released a critique that exposes serious and fundamental flaws in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted for TATA’s Dhamra port project in Bhadrak district, Orissa. The critique has been authored by Dr. Paul Johnston and Dr. David Santillo from the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, School of Biosciences, Exeter University, United Kingdom (1).
The Dhamra port will be located in an ecologically sensitive area, 5 km. from the Bhitarkanika Sanctuary and less than 15 km. from the Gahirmatha nesting beaches, the world’s largest mass nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles. Given the sensitive nature of the location, it is essential that the EIA be scientifically credible, accurate, detailed and unbiased, but Greenpeace has found that it fails on all these fronts.
“This EIA is a totally inadequate tool when it comes to gauging the port’s environmental impacts,” said Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace. “The main flaws relate to poor baseline ecological data, a complete omission of the impacts on turtles, impacts of noise and chemical pollution and a poor hazard analysis and emergency plan. To top it all, the EIA considers a port site that is completely different from the one currently being developed!”
The EIA considers the port site on Kanika Sands, whereas the site now being developed is on the mainland. The environmental impacts for both the sites will also vary. For example, the new site requires the dredging of a 19 km. long shipping channel, whereas the length of the dredged shipping channel for the earlier site would have been considerably less. There are also significant differences between the size and scale of the project that received Central government clearance and the one now being developed.
Little is yet known of the ecology of the mudflats in the port area and the kind of life they might hold. There is evidence of turtle movement near the Dhamra river mouth and Kanika Sands, close to the port site and the proposed shipping channel. A satellite telemetry study, done by the Wildlife Institute of India in 2001, showed turtle movement near the port. There are also reports of turtle sightings from fishermen and researchers, as well as turtle sightings north of Kanika Sands by Greenpeace in 2006.
“It is amazing that such a large project is going ahead in an ecologically sensitive area on the basis of such a shoddy EIA”, said Dr. Johnston from Exeter. “The most important problems with the EIA relate to a failure to describe fully the baseline ecological conditions, a failure to identify fully the potential ecological impacts and a failure to consider potential extreme weather events, not to mention the potential impacts of global warming, both of which the Orissa coast is prone to.”
Greenpeace has sent a copy of the critique to Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman and Managing Director, Tata & Sons, and Mr. Muthuraman, Managing Director, Tata Steel, asking for a response. None has been forthcoming thus far.
“It is time for TATAs to live up to their claim of being an environmentally responsible corporation”, Fernandes emphasised. “The message is crystal clear. Greenpeace demands that TATAs state publicly what they intend to do to avoid a fait accompli, that is, the port is constructed or under construction and then science shows adverse impacts. In the absence of credible scientific evidence of a lack of impacts, all construction activities should be stopped. Commissioning a comprehensive study while construction simultaneously goes ahead is unacceptable”, he added.
The Hindu : Business : Tata halts Dhamra Port construction
7 Aug 2008 ... MUMBAI
Tata Steel has announced the suspension of construction of the Dhamra Port in Orissa, and committed to a fresh EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) study before resuming development.
According to a Tata Steel statement, the decision follows requests by prominent Tata stakeholders, including IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), to follow the precautionary principle and reconsider the port development until such time that an authoritative EIA has been conducted. IUCN has been collaborating with Tata Steel to prepare a damage mitigation plan and advise the company on lighting and dredging screens that are favourable to local biodiversity. As these methods have been inadequate in reducing turtle mortality rates in the vicinity of Dhamra, IUCN has now requested for a fresh EIA.
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