KENDRAPARA: A day after the State Government decided to set up a riverine port on Mahanadi river near Akhadasali village under Mahakalapada block in Kendrapara, hundreds of fishermen and environmentalists of the district on Sunday opposed the decision.
The proposed port will take away the livelihoods of more than 30,000 fishermen who have been eking out their living by fishing in Mahanadi river and its tributaries and creeks since time immemorial, said vice-president of district fishermen’s association Arjun Mandal.
The proposed port at Akhadasali on Mahanadi river near Gahiramatha marine sanctuary, world’s largest rookery of the endangered Olive Ridley Sea turtles, would be an impediment to movement of fish species in the river. Similarly, Akhadasali is the breeding ground of Hilsa and other species of fishes, while large tracts of mangrove forest near the river will denudate.
The Government should have consulted with fishermen before finalising the plan for the port. The construction of the port would endanger the livelihood of fishermen and destroy 20 fishing hamlets in the district. If the Government goes ahead with the port plan, fishermen will organise a massive protest, warned the fishermen’s leader.
“Gahiramatha beach near Akhadasali is famous for nesting of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles and the port will be an impediment to the arrival of turtles. Since no environment impact assessment has been done for the proposed port project, it is illegal on the part of the Government to announce the plan. We have to protect the eco-system. The Government planned to build a port to help corporate houses for their smooth transport of goods, said an environmentalist.
On the other hand, locals welcomed the decision of the Government. “The port will be built on PPP mode and local youths will get jobs while villages adjoining the port would be developed. Some persons with an ulterior motive are opposing the proposed port,” said Padmalava Chaudhury, president of Kendrapara Unnayana Parishad.