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Port project at Barunei Muhan may be shelved

Jayajit Dash  |  Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar 

In a blow to the Orissa government's plan to build a deep sea port at Barunei Muhan in Kendrapara district, the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is understood to have quashed the proposal, citing that the present location is a threat to the mass nesting site of Olive Ridley turtles.

The state government's last ditch attempt to have a port at Barunei Muhan by submitting a revised proposal to MoEF has failed to find any favour with the ministry which has insisted that no port should come up at that location.

"The port project proposed at Barunei Muhan is as good as shelved. The Union environment ministry is clearly not in favour of any port coming up at that location”, said a top official source.

Five developers including London-based ArcelorMittal, Jamshedpur-based Adhunik Metaliks, Chennai-based SPI Ports Ltd, Chennai-based Sical Logistics and Mumbai-based Mundra Port & Special Economic Zone had evinced interest in setting up a port at Barunei Muhan.

The proposed port project had, however, failed to move forward amid stiff protests from environmentalists who had opposed the project on grounds of threat to congregation of Olive Ridley turtles.

Many other minor projects proposed in the state had run into rough weather due to the hurdles posed by the Union ministries of defence and environment & forests.

Barring Dhamara and Gopalpur, most of the other non-major port projects proposed in the state have been non-starters for the want of the necessary clearances from the two ministries.

The Ministry of defence has expressed its reservations over the ports coming up between Dhamara and Kirtania and this has cast doubts over the port projects proposed in the region.

The defence ministry had objected to construction of a port at Chudamani by Essel Mining and Industries Limited, an Aditya Birla Group company.

Since the proposed port was close to the missile testing centre at Wheeler Island in Bhadrak district and the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Balasore district, the DRDO had objected to the project.

Other port locations which were opposed by the defence ministry were Bahabalpur, Inchuri and Bichitrapur in Balasore district and Chudamani in Bhadrak district.

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First Published: Tue, October 11 2011. 00:01 IST