GLOBAL RESPONSE: Stop Port Construction; Save Sea Turtles, India

Stop Port Construction; Save Ridley Sea Turtles / India
GLOBAL RESPONSE ACTION ALERT # 3/07
Stop Port Construction; Save Ridley Sea Turtles / India
Also available at: www.globalresponse.org
For a model letter, see http://www.globalresponse.org/gra.php?i=current
"If TATA Steel goes ahead with the project at the proposed site, the port
would not only seal the fate of the Olive Ridley sea turtles of Orissa but
also pave the way for one of the biggest ecological disasters along the
eastern coast of India..As sea turtles are migratory creatures, we feel that
the entire world should be concerned over this looming threat and the
failure of Indian authorities to safeguard their breeding and nesting
grounds."
–Biswajit Mohanty, Coordinator of Operation Kachhapa, Orissa, India
The Olive Ridley sea turtle offers one of nature’s greatest spectacles. Each
year, Olive Ridleys return from their inter-oceanic migrations to the
beaches where they were hatched. Hundreds of thousands congregate and mate
in the offshore waters. Then, as if on cue, the females lumber ashore to lay
their eggs. Their arrival — tens of thousands on a given beach — is
heralded by the Spanish term for this remarkable event, the arribada.
Arribadas occur in only three locations worldwide. One of the largest is on
the coast of Orissa state in India. To protect the endangered sea turtles,
the Gahirmatha coast is designated a Marine Sanctuary. The Bhitarkanika
Wildlife Sanctuary, a Ramsar wetland site, offers further protection for a
mangrove forest ecosystem, which is a nursery for a wealth of marine life.
The Olive Ridleys depend on the fertility of the mangrove ecosystem for food
each year when they congregate for mating and the arribada.
How is it possible that the Orissa state government is permitting
construction of a massive deep-water industrial port less than 15 kilometers
from the Olive Ridleys’ nesting beaches? If completed, the Dhamra port will
be one of the largest in South Asia, with 17-kilometer channels dredged deep
and wide enough to accommodate the world’s largest vessels. Environmental
organizations and local fishermen’s unions are asking the international
community to help them stop construction of the Dhamra Port at this location
where its impacts on the sea turtles could spell extinction and its impacts
on local fishermen could spell ruin.
Threats to Turtles and Fishing Communities
Sea turtle hatchlings break out of their sandy nests at night and must
quickly find their way to the sea. They move across the sand toward the
brighter horizon, the moon- and star-lit ocean. Artificial light from ports
and populated areas disorients the hatchlings and they may never reach the
sea. Artificial light also disorients the nesting females. In fact,
Operation Kachhapa, a sea turtle conservation organization, charges that
illumination from a mega-port at Dhamra could cause the Olive Ridleys to
abandon the Orissa beaches entirely. And go where?
Dredging for the port’s ship channels and construction of a 750-meter jetty
will change sedimentation patterns, and these will affect the shape,
dimensions, sand grain size and vegetation of the nesting beaches. These
disturbances may also inhibit nesting.
Pollution, oil spills and ballast water discharged from the giant cargo
ships would contaminate the nearby mangrove ecosystem, affecting the entire
marine food chain. Local fishermen, whose livelihoods depend on the health
of these fish breeding and spawning grounds, have joined the fight against
the Dhamra port. K. Allaya, General Secretary of the Orissa Traditional
Fishworkers’ Union, charges, "The Dhamra Port Project has ignored the basic
livelihood needs of local communities, taking away their land, their fishing
grounds and the productivity of the sea on which thousands depend."
The port project’s Environmental Impact Assessment was done in 1997, but
environmental organizations charge that it lacks any analysis of impacts on
turtles and port site ecology.
Corporate Responsibility
TATA Steel, a very influential company in India, is building the Dhamra Port
in a joint venture with the engineering and construction firm Larsen &
Toubro. Although TATA originally maintained that they would reconsider the
port site if it is established that Olive Ridleys are present in the area,
they have ignored the findings of a team from North Orissa University that
unequivocally established the presence of turtles in the area. As evidence,
the research team recorded over 2,000 fresh turtle carcasses at and near the
port site. Adding to the area’s ecological significance, they also found
several rare species, among them horseshoe crabs, snakes and frogs seldom
found on the Indian mainland.
As a member of the U.N.’s Global Compact for Corporate Responsibility, TATA
Steel is pledged to the Precautionary Principle. With the survival of rare
and ancient species hanging in the balance, this is a time to practice
precaution.
How We Can Help:
Environmental organizations and fishing unions in Orissa urge us to help
them stop construction of the Dhamra port by sending letters to TATA Steel
and Orissa government officials. In your letters, please
Express your appreciation for the establishment of protected areas along the
Orissa coast, including the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and the Bhitarkanika
Wildlife Sanctuary, which are critical to the survival of the endangered
Olive Ridley sea turtle and a wealth of marine life.
Urge the Orissa government to continue to protect this ancient and
endangered species and preserve the livelihoods of local fishing communities
by revoking its approval for the Dhamra port.
Urge TATA Steel to apply the Precautionary Principle as required by the
Global Compact and to uphold its reputation for environmental responsibility
by relocating its port facility to a site where it will not threaten
endangered species, critical ecosystems and fishermen’s livelihoods.
A model letter is available here.
Addresses (postage from the US is 90 cents)
Mr. Ratan Tata
Chairman, TATA Sons
Bombay House
24, Homy Modi Street
Bombay: 400001 INDIA
Fax: Int’l Code + 91 22 6665 7724
Email: coffice@tata.com
Mr. Shri Naveen Patanaik
Chief Minister, Orissa
Naveen Nivas,
Aerodrome Gate,
P.O.-Bhubaneswar-751001
Dist.-Khurda (Orissa) INDIA
Fax: Int’l Code + 91 67 4259 0833
Email: cmo@ori.nic.in
This Global Response Action was issued at the request of and with
information provided Operation Kachhapa
(www.wpsi-india.org/projects/operation_kachhapa.php), the Orissa Traditional
Fishworker’s Union (OTFWU); Greenpeace India (www.greenpeace.org/india/);
and the WILD Foundation (www.wild.org). For Greenpeace’s critique of the
Dhamra port EIA, see
www.greenpeace.org/india/press/reports/critique-of-the-environmental. For
more on the U.N.’s Global Compact, see www.unglobalcompact.org/ and on the
Precautionary Principle, see
www.iucn.org/themes/law/pdfdocuments/LN250507_PPGuidelines.pdf and
www.precaution.org/lib/pp_def.htm.
*Thanks to Bivash Pandav for the Ridley Turtle Photos and to Erin King for
the India Map Graphic
——————————————————————————–
* THANK YOU FOR YOUR LETTERS! Since 1990, Global Response has organized over
100 international letter-writing campaigns, and in 43% of them we have
already celebrated victories!
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Paula Palmer, Executive Director
Global Response
PO Box 7490
Boulder, Colorado 80306
United States
Tel +303/444-0306
Global Response organizes effective international letter-writing campaigns
to protect the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples. See action
alerts for adults, teens and children at www.globalresponse.org
 
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Also, thanx for signing my petitions, et al, please consider sharing them. Also, since Admin. of change.org aren't allowing me to invite people to do my actions lately and are switching my urls for my petitions so when I invite people off their site they can't get to the petition either (ergo 3 possible urls for each petition), here's a few of my latest actions; do as few or as many as you'd like (there are 3 linx for each petition because admin. switches between the 3 of them so people trying to sign the petition can‘t get to it): This post on Disabled Greens News and discussion: Haiti disaster anniversary, please, do what you can: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DisabledGreensNews/message/9033 This petition on change.org: Haiti disaster anniversary: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/haiti_disaster_anniversary_2?share_id=yIpWHEHxri&pe=pce http://uspoverty.change.org/petitions/view/haiti_disaster_anniversary_2 http://www.change.org/petitions/view/haiti_disaster_anniversary_2   This post on Disabled Greens News and discussion: Green, Indigenous, Native American, etc., actions: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DisabledGreensNews/message/9026 This petition on change.org: Green, Indigenous, Native American, acts: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/green_indigenous_native_american_acts?share_id=NHvTtQadfP&pe=pce http://uspoverty.change.org/petitions/view/green_indigenous,_native_american_acts http://www.change.org/petitions/view/green_indigenous,_native_american_acts   This post on Disabled Greens News and discussion: Art/Act: celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, holiday: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DisabledGreensNews/message/9024 This petition on change.org: Art/Act: celebrate Dr. M.L. King, Jr.'s holiday: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/artact_celebrate_dr_ml_king_jrs_holiday?share_id=QjOkAUGeBQ&pe=pce http://uspoverty.change.org/petitions/view/art_act_celebrate_dr_ml_king_jr_s_holiday http://www.change.org/petitions/view/art_act_celebrate_dr_ml_king_jr_s_holiday   This post on Disabled Greens News and discussion: Green; NA; the evolution; Civil, Human, LP, Prisoner's Rights; Poverty; etc..: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DisabledGreensNews/message/9022 This petition on change.org: Economically empower through advocacy: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/economically_empower_through_advocacy?share_id=WZNqBQWcXE&pe=pce http://uspoverty.change.org/petitions/view/economically_empower_through_advocacy http://www.change.org/petitions/view/economically_empower_throug
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