Don’t let TATA terminate the turtles

Don’t let TATA terminate the turtles
20 March 2009

Greenpeace activists blockade the headquarters of the TATA Group, demanding Mr. Ratan Tata halt construction on TATA’s Dhamra port in Orissa, which threatens the endangered olive ridley sea turtles. Enlarge Image
India — TATA corporation of India is in the global spotlight as they launch the Nano, the world’s cheapest car. But the spotlight ought to be on a costly little secret: TATA’s giant port at Dhamra, which threatens the nesting grounds of an endangered turtle species.

Merriam-Webster has this entry under ‘ta-ta’; Etymology: baby talk-used to express farewell.

That’s apt, considering that the TATA corporation could soon be making us say goodbye to of one of India’s largest marine reserves – Gahirmatha, and with it one of the world’s few remaining Olive Ridley turtle nesting grounds.

Every year, between 200,000 to 500,000 turtles make their way to the mass nesting beaches of Gahirmatha on India’s east coast. This is just about 12 kilometres away from a giant port being constructed by TATA at Dhamra.

TATA is India’s largest corporation and has a growing international empire, with its recent acquisitions of Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus and the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.

In India, the company’s reputation for social responsibility has been considerably tarnished over the last decade, and its performance on the Dhamra project is one of the reasons.

Last tango for the turtles?

Picture this if you will: it is night on a remote and isolated beach, the burning heat of the day is a fading memory, dissipated by a strong southerly wind, and the sky is incredibly star spangled.

Amidst the waves near the water’s edge there gradually appear not one, not a dozen, but literally hundreds of mound-like shapes – female sea turtles, making their laborious way up the beach to lay their eggs.

The turtles have been in the waters offshore for months; what prompts them to choose this exact night to lay their eggs – en masse – is still largely a mystery. This is one of the wonders of the natural world. All the more precious for a world in which there aren’t too many such wonders left.

Here’s another mental picture – fast forward to February 2020. The nesting beach is a thin shadow of its former self due to erosion – perhaps in part due to the massive dredging required for the Dhamra port?

The glow of the industrial township surrounding the port 10 km to the northwest is clearly visible. The lights are not from the port alone – there is also now a fertilizer factory, a coal fired thermal power plant, ship building yard, steel factory, coking coal plant and more.

All of these have been proposed, and are not just figments of the imagination. What was once a sleepy fishing and farming village is now a groaning, polluted and crowded industrial hub, adding to GDP and corporate profits, no doubt. Turtles and other lesser species be damned.

What we want

When the original environmental impact study turned out to have holes big enough to drive a fleet of Nanos through, we asked for a fresh, independent environmental impact study to be made, and for construction to stop until that is done. Seems like a simple demand, right?

But so far, we’ve hit a brick wall.

We’ve built a 103,000-strong cyberactivist community in India on this issue. But the port hasn’t stopped.

We’ve had people emailing, faxing and calling the Tatas on an hourly basis. But the port hasn’t stopped.

We’ve got 200 scientists (many with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) to speak up. But the port hasn’t stopped.

We’ve had over 1,500 blogs talk about this campaign. But the port hasn’t stopped.

We’ve had 98% of Tata’s own customers tell us in a poll that the port must stop. But the port hasn’t stopped.

We’ve done half-a-dozen non-violent direct actions against the Tatas. But the port hasn’t stopped.

In India we’ve been attacked, stonewalled, maligned, hacked, spammed, and accused of being in bed with everyone from Al Qaeda to the Bee Gees. But the port hasn’t stopped.

But guess what? We’re not giving up.


Posted on March 24, 2009, in Endangered Species, Environmental Activism, Wildlife Wonders. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. you are not giving up coz you believe in the cause or just because you represent an group that is not concerned with any welfare but thier own visibility. or is it that you are so egotistical that you dont want to accept that there is complete harmony with nature at the Dhamra port

  2. Mr Ratan Tata why dont you give free tickets to these guys to visit dhamra so that they can go and see for themselves that the nesting has already happened.

    Guys all expenses paid….anyone interested

  3. The day has come where all of orissa and our country will rise and tell these bunch of pseudo activists not to paralyze their future.

    But will they still listen?

  4. The point which has been proven by this incident in dharma is that greenpeace can create controversies out of nothing and can go to any extent to promote their brand.

  5. Hi Greenpeace!

    Checkout the latest nesting pictures.

    Seems like Turtles didn’t understand ur theory.

  6. The nesting period is over and the Olive Ridleys have nested and continued with their journey, but the people of Orissa are the ones who are suffering continuous due to all these hurdles. Greenpeace is being cold and inhuman not considering about the welfare of the people of Orissa.

  7. one cannot compare a turtle with a car….its insensitive towards the turtles. If Greenpeace wants to save the Olive Ridleys they need to show more respect to the specie.

  8. Greenpeace is well known for the wrong reasons. Targeting a world renowned company like TATA definitely getting them in public eye.

  9. Greenpeace seems to be choosing one life over the other which obviously is not acceptable.

  10. TATAs not going to jeopardies their project after progressing. They must have been aware of the whole nesting thing they started with their project. They have taken measures thats why nesting continued last year. So what is really the issue with Green peace. One wouldn’t know because they refuse to negotiate either

  11. coolkrishna_murthy

    Oh boy!we need a break from these people who claim to be the saviours of the world.

    They are more saviours of their brand

  12. The DPCL is learning from the Cape Canaveral situation and is placing effective Dredging Policies in the Dhamra Port, it is good news for the Olive Ridleys. The Greenpeace just needs to be updated about this.

  13. Would like to share news about mass turtles nesting in Gahirmatha Beach inspite of Dhamra Port construction…

  14. Here’s a funny video I got from one of my friend:

  15. According to Greenpeace, Dhamra port project will directly affect the Olive Ridley turtles, their mating, nesting etc. however found this video worth sharing.

    Even after huge Greenpeace propaganda, turtles came back for nesting at Gahirmatha beach, which is located near Dhamra port project.

    Like to share few more stories:

    I think Greenpeace problem lies here: “After all, Tata has grown from a national giant into an international player”

  16. Have a look at

    Its says:

    “It may be noted that IUCN and the MTSG (Marine Turtle Scientific Group) scientists working with the group have clearly stated that dredging operations for Dhamra does not and will not affect the Olive Ridley Turtles in Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and its periphery area. For more details log on to –

  17. Greenpeace to see exclusive olive ridley turtles video shared by DPCL:

  18. “Greenpeace has been variously criticized for being too radical, too alarmist, or too mainstream, for using methods bordering on eco-terrorism, for having itself caused environmental damage in its activities, for taking positions which are not environmentally or economically sound, and for valuing non-human causes over human causes. These criticisms have been made by governments, industrial and political lobbyists and other environmental groups.”

    Greenpeace Lies About Apple

    Greenpeace Lies About Dhamra Port

    Is that like Greenpeace always targets big corporate giant to keep them under pressure and earn money from them ultimately?

    I wonder why a non-governmental organization for the protection and conservation of the environment do not like to protect the human beings. I have found in few countries innocent & poor people require protections, importance more than animals.

    Why they have been kept ignored and leave behind by this type of so called good organizations.


  19. “It is sad that we first decide a villain and then find the proof to crucify them, when our concern could be about the turtles and people of Orissa and finding out ways so that both prosper.” – Cyber activist blogger’s viewpoint on Greenpeace and the turtles

  20. Dhamra Port Project is not only concern about the Orissa’s economy or the society’s betterment but they are also concern about the environmental protection. A very nice video which you will definitely like to share with others

  21. Light and lighting are crucial for any industrial project, both during construction and the operational phase. IUCN lighting experts and DPCL are also taking care of implementing lighting safeguards, which would also be turtle safe lighting and would be low pressure sodium vapor lights which have been proven by research to be the least disorienting to turtle hatchlings.


  22. Expressing anguish over the Green Peace movement’s single point agenda on stopping work on Dhamra Port project in Orissa, Tata Steel Chairman Ratan Tata reiterated that the company would in no way take up any project hazardous to Olive Ridley Turtles

    Mr Ratan Tata Chairman of TATA Steel to Greenpeace activists: “I invite you for a discussion and a visit to the port site in Dhamra.”

    Tata proved that Tata was always willing to have a best solution for country’s industrial & economical development and they were always ready for solutions.

  23. Greenpeace, the professed global environment campaign organization, in an instance of unmatched brazenness, falsified the report prepared by North Orissa University on Biodiversity Assessment of Dhamra Estuary. As a result, a group of forty MPs wrote to the Ministry Of Environment and Forests to call on the bluff of Greenpeace. The Orissa Govt. therefore initiated action against Greenpeace proposing a ban on all its activities in the state.

    However, after the 102nd Annual General Meeting of Tata Steel in Mumbai, Greenpeace unabashedly has started their tricks once again. This time it has managed to rope in Retd Admiral Ramdas and his wife Mrs. Lalita Ramdas on the issue of Dhamra port but as far as scientific reasoning goes, the issues raised are totally unfounded. We can just hope that the visit of the Ramdas’ to the site will help to stop meaningless agitations and clear the situation once and for all.

  24. Tata Steel has always maintained a strong focus on environment sustainability and environment management in all its operations. We have seen that in the issues regarding the construction of a deep-sea port at Dhamra in Orissa, the Company has been forthcoming in sharing the concerns of activists and ever willing to implement practical means of mitigating any adverse impact of port construction on the marine eco-system in that area. The Company has held at least eight to nine sessions of meetings with Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in the matter of Dhamra Port. Tata Steel has made it abundantly clear that it is willing to have further discussions in order to alleviate any unnecessary doubts that the dissenters may yet nurture against the project.

    Here is an outline of events as they happened till date.

    The JV agreement with L&T to build a port at Dhamra was signed by Tata Steel in 2004. At the very onset, discussions were initiated with WWF- India, BNHS, Mr Kartik Shankar, Mr Bittu Sehagal and others.

    The company was duly concerned with the objections raised by different environmental organizations and agreed not to begin construction work till a detailed study was complete. Responding wholeheartedly to the demands of activists, Tata Steel agreed for a proposal for a further study of the impact of the port on turtles and on the marine and island eco-system.

    In 2005, BNHS and WWF-India, with an unprecedented suddenness, reversed their stand and refused to conduct the assessment study as they had promised. However, the organisations did not provide any reasons for their turncoat attitude.

    In March 06, in an address to ED, Greenpeace India, the Chairman of TATA Sons made it clear that commitments were meant to be honoured at both ends. The Company had fulfilled their promise by withholding construction work for the proposed study, which never actually took off. The MD of Tata Steel also met Greenpeace officials in their Bangalore office.

    In January 2008 a meeting was subsequently conducted between Greenpeace and Tata Steel and a list of concerns was presented by Greenpeace with regard to Dhamra Port. DPCL on 8th March 2008, gave a detailed and comprehensive explanation to all the points raised by Greenpeace. Subsequent objections were allayed on 3rd May 2008.

    Further on 23rd October 2008, MD, Tata Steel along with senior executives of Tata Steel, L&T and DPCL met Greenpeace, BNHS, WPSI, Wild Society of Orissa, Sanctuary Asia and other environmental organizations to discuss the concerns and the way forward on the subject with regard to Dhamra Port.

    A team of Company Executives and environment experts visited Bhitarakanika National Park, Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and the Dhamra Port site on February 2009, supervising the ongoing dredging operations.

    On fourth meeting on 20th Feb 2009 in Kolkata, Tata Steel, L&T and DPCL agreed to conduct the additional biological impact assessment in close collaboration with NGOs’ of environmental organizations team led by a mutually agreed upon Scientists team. However the NGOs’ in a further instance of unreasonableness, insisted upon complete cessation of on-going dredging operation of Dhamra Port even before the commencement of study. However DPCL, Tata Steel and L&T team showed it preparedness to adjust the schedule of works including dredging to facilitate the study after due recommendation by the Scientists team.

    The 102nd AGM of Tata Steel had been attended by a number of Greenpeace activists who happen to be shareholders of the Company as well. The AGM highlighted Tata Steel’s interests in further conference with Greenpeace in the matter of the port in addition to an invitation to activists to visit the port site yet again.

    From the sequence of events, it is absolutely clear that the only thing that Greenpeace wants is to prolong the situation of deadlock in the matter of Dhamra Port. Perhaps, due to a lack of other valid issues on their agenda, Greenpeace is carrying on with a stance of stiffness, lest they have to give in to valid scientific reasoning. The only deduction that may be drawn from Greenpeace’s lack of willingness in discussion is that they have lost their own conviction long before and fear that they will have to admit it as such in an open forum. It is indeed a very sorry state of affairs in which progress is kept at stake and the environment is being used as a pawn by people who profess themselves to be friends of the environment.

  25. Some shareholders of Tata Steel brought up the concerns raised by Greenpeace about the impact of the Dhamra Port on the nesting habitat of Olive Ridley Turtles at Tata Steel’s 102nd AGM in Mumbai on the 27th August’09 and requested the Chairman of Tata Steel, Mr Ratan Tata, to discuss the Dhamra Port issue with them.

    Mr Tata responded immediately to their concerns and said that my invitation is “ to you Admiral Ramdas” and anybody else who would be interested and Mr Muthuraman would make the arrangements for you all to take the time to satisfy yourselves in terms of what we are doing.
    Know more: Response to GPs activity on Websites


    In the blog post it is clearly mentioned that –

    In order to facilitate the movement of large size vessels, a deep-sea port was proposed on the north of the mouth of river
    Dhamra, on the eastern coast of India….

    Unfortunately, ever since its inception, certain groups and individuals, mostly campaigners like Greenpeace have expressed
    unfounded and biased apprehensions to malign the project as an environmental threat….

    This video clearly narrates the
    misconceptions that have been spread, and the actual facts to counter them…..

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