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Conservationists want tougher steps to save marine life

New Delhi, May 21 (Calcutta Tube) Environmentalists in a petition to Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh Friday expressed serious concern at large scale development in the vicinity of ecologically critical stretches of coast and sought effective legal safeguards.

The petition, handed over by Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, and Kartik Shanker of the Centre for Ecological Sciences, demanded that no ports should be permitted within 25 km of turtle mass-nesting areas and other important feeding, migratory and refuge habitats.

The other key demand is a no-development zone for all industrial activities within at least a 10-km radius around the mass turtle nesting beaches in Orissa.

‘The recent oil spills at Gopalpur port near Rushikulya and near Paradip port in 2009 are wake-up calls. If we continue to locate industrial infrastructure in ecologically critical areas, we will sacrifice what is left of our marine biodiversity,’ said Ashish Fernandes, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace India.

‘The minister’s response to this petition will reflect his commitment to regulate coastal development more effectively. The consequences of inaction are empty seas and empty futures for our coastal populations,’ he added.

According to one of the conservationists, the call for tighter controls on port locations comes at a time when the central and state governments are actively pushing the construction of ports all along India’s coast. Over 300 ports have been proposed along the coast of mainland India, and over 200 have already been notified.

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