Project title: Dhamra Port Project: Promoting corporate environmental responsibility in India
Location: Dhamra Port, Odisha, India
Duration: 2007 - 2012
Project Background: The eastern part of India is one of the least developed areas of the country, despite being one of the most resource rich. In early 2000, expanding links between the Indian and global economies brought opportunities for the development of the area, but a deep port was needed to support this growth. The government of Odisha identified Dhamra to be the most suitable location, and the development of the port was taken up by the Dhamra Port Company Ltd(DPCL), a 50:50 joint venture of Tata Steel and construction giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T).
From a development perspective, the site was perfect. But from a conservation perspective there were questions about its location due to its close proximity to a mass nesting site for the Olive Ridley turtle at Gahirmatha, about 15 kilometres to the south, and to the nearby Bitarkhanika Wildlife Refuge.
The Olive Ridley is one of the world’s seven remaining sea turtle species, and is vulnerable to extinction at a global level. Committed to understanding if a port could be built in the area without harming the turtles, Dhamra Port Company Limited (DPCL) requested the advice of IUCN to mitigate the impact of the port’s development on the turtles.
The agreement between IUCN and DPCL, a joint venture of Tata Steel and Larsen & Toubro, was an encouraging step forward in promoting corporate environmental responsibility. Given the Tata Group’s commitment to environmental preservation, IUCN believed that engaging with DPCL, in an effort to integrate the highest of environmental standards into the port development and operations, was an exemplary model of contemporary conservation action.
Objectives of the project:
- Avoiding, minimising and mitigating the impacts of Dhamra Port development on turtles and compensating or off-setting any residual impact that cannot be avoided or reasonably mitigated
- Improving the project’s performance in other aspects of the environment, e.g. terrestrial environment as affected by access roads, railway lines and other secondary developments
- Contributing to raising national and global standards for environmentally responsible development of mega projects
- DPCL has worked towards carrying out turtle-sensitive dredging including putting in place turtle deflectors, fitting screens in inflow pipes, turtle friendly lighting and developing turtle observer programmes
- IUCN is continuing to work the government of Odisha on a lighting ordinance to address lighting in coastal zones along the entire state coastline
- Awareness and education programmes were carried out amongst local communities
- IUCN worked with fishermen and encouraged them to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) to reduce incidences of turtle by-catch
Donors: The Dhamra Port Company Limited (DPCL); Tata Steel; and Larson & Toubro
Partner: IUCN Species Survival Commission