'Supreme Court could have saved India's beaches'

By Arnab Pratim Dutta
Published: Friday 31 July 2009

-- Probir Banerjee, president of citizens' advocacy group Pondycan, spoke to Arnab Pratim Dutta on his continuing fight against the proposed port in Puducherry

On the recent Supreme Court decision allowing the port

The judgment is not in public interest and has ignored the arguments on procedures not being followed. The order reads like a copy of the arguments presented by the government counsel. The Chief Justice could have taken some bold initiatives, like he did to protect forests, and saved India's beaches.

The environmental hazards posed by the port

Photographic evidence of the devastation caused by the existing commercial harbour to the 12 km Puducherry-Tamil Nadu coastline was presented in the court. The judgment ignored this and merely observed that it is for the environment ministry to accept or reject the project. A deep-water port will destroy the peaceful character of this heritage town.

Your next move

Our organization will continue its fight on three fronts. First, through the media and drawing attention to improper planning of ports all over India. Second, we are going to highlight the damage it will cause to Puducherry's heritage. Third, we want to strengthen the people's movement; there is a strong movement opposing the port.

On other ports proposed along the east coast

This is a matter of serious concern. If all the pending port applications are sanctioned there will be a port every 30 km. This is a land scam and a devious method of allowing development along the coast violating the coastal laws. The damages by way of loss of income and homes of people living in coastal areas, agricultural lands turning into wasteland and loss to tourism industry outweigh benefits from these ports.

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