Bhubaneswar, August 10 (Odisha.in) Greenpeace welcomed the decision of the Government of Orissa to allocate Rs 2 crores for improved marine patrolling to protect the Olive Ridley Turtles, which throng Orissa’s coastline between November and May, every year.
The state government officially requested this allocation from the Centre. As per an official release from the state secreteriat, this money would be utilized to procure fast patrolling boats to check illegal fishing by mechanised boats. Illegal fishing and especially trawling has resulted in the death of over 100,000 turtles over the last decade.
This decision follows a financial estimate released by Greenpeace in March 2007 of the funds required to solve the turtle-fishermen crisis in the state. The estimate specified an allocation of Rs. 2.02 Crores to the Department of Forests (Wildlife), for improved patrolling to protect turtles (1).
Since the release of this estimate, Greenpeace has interacted with over 50 members of the Orissa Legislative Assembly, across party lines, urging them to support the necessary budgetary allocations.
Following a government assurance during the March 2007 vote on account budget session that they would examine the Greenpeace proposal, Greenpeace actively followed up with members and chairs of standing committees constituted for Fisheries, Public Accounts and Environment and Forests (2).
“We are happy to note that the Orissa government has responded positively to our proposal. This decision takes cognizance of Supreme Court orders on the patrolling and enforcement of no-trawling zones, and is a first step in the right direction”, said Sanjiv Gopal, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace India.
“Greenpeace will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that these resources are utilized appropriately in the coming turtle season. We are keen to collaborate with the Government on patrolling, by sharing our resources, including our speedboats and perhaps even the Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior,” he further added.
The turtle death toll, along the Paradip to Ramchandi coast, and the Bhadrak Coast around Dhamra, has crossed 5000 this year. Illegal fishing in the Devi area also continues. The situation in the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary remains unknown, with no independent verification of official figures possible.
While the government is pushing for increased resources for turtle protection, Greenpeace is disappointed that the amount estimated for fishermen’s compensation has not been allocated. “We will continue to push the state government to make this allocation, to resolve the unnecessary turtle-fisher crisis that recurs each year,” said Sanjiv Gopal
“This is a positive step in the short term and Greenpeace supports it. But at the same time, with the Goverrnment considering mega projects such as the Dhamra Port, the future of the turtles, coastal ecosystems and traditional communities dependent on them hangs in balance.
It is essential that any proposed Industrial development considers and factors in environmental and social implications. In the case of the Dhamra port Project, it would quite clearly mean stopping the port from being built at the current proposed location” said Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace India.