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Plans for Seemandhra seaport threat to environment?

Plans for Seemandhra seaport threat to environment?
Highlights

Plans For Seemandhra Seaport Must Achieve A Balance To Protect Environment. The Chief Minister-designate of Seemandhra Pradesh, N.C.Naidu, is planning to establish a major world class seaport for the state at Dugarajupatnam. He has already discussed the pros and cons of building the seaport in the proposed area with officials and experts, reports say.

The Chief Minister-designate of Seemandhra Pradesh, N.C.Naidu, is planning to establish a major world class seaport for the state at Dugarajupatnam. He has already discussed the pros and cons of building the seaport in the proposed area with officials and experts, reports say.

Three years ago the government of Andhra Pradesh selected Dugarajupatnam to build a sea port from two other possible locations: Nakkapalli in Vishakhapatnam district and Ramayapatnam in Prakasam district.

Dugarajapatnam was initially rejected following serious objections raised by Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) because the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) which is concerned with the country’s safety and security, was just 10 kilometres away from the proposed location. The Department of Space (DOS) initially objected the building of a port at Dugarajapatnam in letters dated April and October, 2012. Later, they revised their stand on the situation and communicated in December that year that they no longer have any objections.

Additionally, the forest department had objected to Dugarajapatnam being the chosen location for the project, as it posed a threat to the protected bird sanctuary in the area and Pulicat Lake.

The government of India issued a gazette notification on 16th September, 2013 (G.S.R.641 (E)) for the construction of Dugarajupatnam port in the district of Nellore which is located a on the northern side of Pulicat Lake. The proposed 5,000 acres land for the major port is part of the sanctuary and its eco-sensitive zone.

The first hurdle in the construction of Dugarajupatnam port is the location of Pulicat Lake. It is the second largest brackish water lake in India, spanning over an area of 720 sq km including Sriharikota Island, and is situated in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu – with 84% in A.P. and 16% in T.N. Both the states have notified the lake area as sanctuaries in September 1976 and October 1980 respectively.

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has recognized the lake as an Important Bird Area (IBA). About 202 bird species have been recorded in the area. It is also forage ground for spot billed pelicans and painted storks of the Sriharikota nesting colony. The lake is rich in biodiversity – it is the home to 65 species of birds, 12 species of prawns and 20 species of crabs. It also supports mammals and reptiles such as wild boars, jackals, jungle cats, foxes, monitor lizards, coyotes, cobras, Russell’s Viper kraits etc.. Additionally, it is forms a major part of the ecosystem bivalves and oysters.

As the lake is rich in biodiversity and is an ecological entity with 46 villages (16 island villages and 30 adjoining villages) depending on the lake directly or indirectly for their livelihood.

The second hurdle is that the proposed Dugarajupatnam is that it is at a distance of –

1. 100 km from a Chennai major port

2. 75 km from Kattupalli-shipyard cum port complex – L&T and TIDCO

3. 78 KM TO Ennore port

4. 34 km from Krishnapatnam port

5. 120 km from Ramayapatnam

The distance between the boarders of L&T shipyard and Ennore is hardly 3 kilometres.

If the major sea port is constructed at Dugarajupatnam there will be severe destruction to the habitat due to dredging operations, construction of berths and other infrastructural activities. There will also be an adverse affect on the birds and other aquatic life of both the lake and the sea. It will have severe impact on the lakes rich faunal and floral biodiversity and there will be severe alarm condition to the pulicat sanctuary and the IBA site. It will also severely affect the livelihood of the community living in 46 villages. The coastal area from Krishnapatnam to Chennai is an important coastal wetland. The coast is already under threat due to innumerable industries dotting the coast along with Chennai major port, Ennore port, and L& Ship yard. This is already affecting the southern boundary of Pulicat Lake to some extent.

However in 2014,in response to the environmentalists lodging complaint in the high court to protect ecologically sensitive zone of dugarajupatnam, the news has been aired that the Nellore administration has changed the location of the port to tupilipalem village which is close to dugarajupatnam, whereas the centre had accepted the proposal for the new port costing nearly 8,000 crore almost two years ago.

Naidu faces a major challenge while establishing a world class sea port for Seemandhra Pradesh with an environmental and ecological-friendly area with least possible disturbances to the biodiversity. That is why, despite the sanctioning of Dugarajupatnam for port, N.C.NAIDU has asked for clearer reports regarding this issue – interestingly, the seaport proposal was transferred from Ramayyapatnam in Prakasm district to Dugarajupatnam in Nellore district which is a highly ecologically sensitive area.

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