Thousands of Olive Ridleys visit the five-km sandy beach from Purunababdh to Podampeta in Ganjam district for mass nesting every year. The site is considered as the second biggest mass nesting site of Olive Ridleys in the country after Gahiramatha in Kendrapada district.
The Ganjam Notified Area Council (NAC) has started construction of a Rs 2 crore septage treatment plant near the river mouth. Local tehsil office has identified the land for the plant, sources said.
“The proposed plant will create obstacles for the Olive Ridleys to visit the area,” said Rabindra Nath Sahu, secretary, Ganjam district sea turtle protection committee. “Any activities near the rookery will create hindrance in mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles,” said Biswajit Mohanty, an wildlife activist. “The construction of the proposed plant will also violate the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms, which prohibits any construction within 500 metres of the beach,” he added.
Mohanty urged the Ganjam district administration to stop construction activities in the proposed site and to allot an alternative place for the plant.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) Berhampur, Amlan Nayak, said they would verify the spot before making any comment. Executive officer Ganjam NAC, Ronit Kumar said the proposed site does not violate the CRZ norms as it is located far away from the beach. “The proposed plant will also be far away from the mass nesting site of the Olive Ridley turtles,” Kumar said.
“Despite the fact, we will once again consult scientists of Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) and the Berhampur DFO before taking a final call as well as to redress the concern of environmentalists and wildlife activists,” he added.
“The land is yet to be alienated in the name of the civic body. Only the ground levelling and sand casting work have started after the local tehsil office accorded the no-objection and earmarked it for the proposed plant,” Kumar said.