Pressure on DRDO to stop firing during turtle season

Pressure on DRDO to stop firing during turtle season

The Orissa government had drawn the attention of the premier defence research agency as well as the Defence Ministry on the matter but in vain.

However, now Union Forest and Environment Minister  Jairam Ramesh has reportedly written to Defence Minister A K Antony to issue a directive in this regard to the DRDO as early as possible.

 “We had drawn the attention of Ramesh during his two day Orissa visit recently. We are now sitting with our finger crossed hoping for a good response from the defence ministry,” principal secretary to the state forest and environment department Aurobindo Behera said.

The DRDO has two missile testing centres on the Orissa coast—one at Chandipur in Balasore district and another one in Wheelers Island in Bhadrak district. The testing centre at  Wheelers Island is located very close to the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Kendrapara district which houses the world’s biggest nesting ground for olive ridley turtles.

According to the sources in the state forest and environment department, the DRDO was given clearance for the missile testing centre in early 1990s on the condition that the agency would not go for any test-firing during the turtle mating and nesting season between November to April.

Despite repeated requests from the Orissa government, the DRDO had been violating the condition frequently. In fact, in his letter to Antony, Jairam  has reportedly mentioned about the violations of pre-condition by the DRDO: “I am told that the conditions on which the DRDO had been granted permission to set up the missile testing centre at Wheelers Island were routinely violated.”