The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on 29 January 2015 received the approval to build a missile launch testing facility at a site adjacent to the Krishna Delta Complex in Andhra Pradesh. The site is a nesting site of Olive Ridley turtles, an endangered species.
The approval was granted by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife chaired by Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
However, the proposal was cleared with certain conditions. These include:
• Activities should be restricted at the test site to daytime only
• No activity should be performed during the turtles’ nesting season
• Regeneration of mangroves should be done
Further, DRDO would be able to build the missile launch testing facility only after receiving a final clearance from the Supreme Court (SC) of India. SC’s approval is required as some part of the land needed to build the facility falls inside the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary.
The project of DRDO seeks diversion of around 155 hectares of forest land. This land will be used for setting up test site, technical facility, a road connecting the test and technical facility.
Opposition to the Testing Facility
The testing facility proposed by DRDO has been opposed by the Andhra Pradesh’s wildlife officials who are not in favour of the project coming up at the site.
They argue that, the testing site is a mangrove forest with rivulet estuaries. It is a habitat for various endangered and threatened species such as Olive Ridley turtles which is a protected animal under Schedule 1 of India’s Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and a vulnerable species as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Besides, it is home to smooth Indian otter, painted stork, spot-billed pelican, oriental white ibis and others.
Thus, according to environmentalists, the project will adversely affect nesting habits of Riddle turtles and will also damage the habitat along with food chain and food web of the area.
When: 29 January 2015