Chat Archives
Chat on "Sustainable Development: The Right Approach" dated December 23, 2013
  • Susan Sharma: Hi Amlan, welcome.
  • Susan Sharma: Since we could not have the chat at 7.30, permit me to ask you a few questions and we look frward to your interaction.
  • Susan Sharma: What is the nature of the responsibilities in the current position you are holding?
  • Amlan Dutta: Hi Susan :)
  • Susan Sharma: Given your expertise in wildlife biology, are you able to use your expertise in the job?
  • Susan Sharma: This is a question many have been asking me in various interactions. The general belief is that wildlife biologists get openings in NGOs only.
  • Amlan Dutta: Yes, Susan. A very interesting but pertinent question.
  • Amlan Dutta: My job requires managing the environment mandate of Dhamra Port, while I had no MBA degree when I joined this job. But it required an understanding of Wildlife too
  • Amlan Dutta: Needless to say, I learnt on the job.
  • Susan Sharma: Can you explain what is the environment mandate of dhamra port?
  • Amlan Dutta: My expertise was also of much use here. As there were serious contentions of the port being the cause for olive ridley turtle deaths in this part of India
  • Susan Sharma: Yes, it was very much in the news and I think the port had to be shifted from the original location. Am I right?
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: Hi Amlan That is interesting.....The Port Developer employing a biologist for taking care of the environment..........of course, that would be much needed. What is remarkable is that this developer is employing a specialist full time
  • Amlan Dutta: The reason why we see few wildlife experts in corporate avatars, is because there is a serious disconnect between the conservation lobby & the NGO lobby. Both Basic & Applied Sciences taught in the universities dont reach the stakeholders
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: What will be the job profile of a biologist in this case
  • Susan Sharma: Yes, Amlan we are entering a controversial topic-but unless we talk, the deadlock will continue and there will be neither dev nor sustainability
  • Amlan Dutta: Does that answer your question?
  • Susan Sharma: Well, to some extent. Please explain why you are saying " Both basic .....stakeholders"?
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: Actually you could be leading a Movement for developing best practices suitable for our environment for sustainable development practices - what and how do we handle the issues relating to People, Flora and other Fauna and strike a balance between the Project and the need to ensure our practices do not harm the environment such that it cant renew/regernerate itself
  • Amlan Dutta: As a wildlife biologist, I could bring in my expertise in the first ever collaboration between IUCN & an Indian Corporate Entity in developing new standards both during the construction as well as the operational phase
  • Susan Sharma: What stage is the project now?
  • Amlan Dutta: Susan, are you there?
  • Susan Sharma: Yes, of course.
  • Susan Sharma: what is the collaboration betn IUCN and Dhamra about? This sounds innovative and interesting
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: Like are IUCN and Dharma documenting best practices or standards that developers need to adhere to for staying within a given framework for using natural resources, even things like water, sand, gravel on the one side and taking care of water bodies, green cover etc.?
  • Susan Sharma: Looking forward to hear your comments
  • Amlan Dutta: The Collaboration between IUCN & Dhamra Port was to help us identify which are the areas which need to be addressed so that the turtle populations & thier habitats dont get affected
  • Amlan Dutta: IUCN identified Lighting & Dredging as two key areas which needed to be addressed
  • Susan Sharma: Ok
  • Susan Sharma: Please go on
  • Amlan Dutta: We got to know that there are numerous ports elsewhere in the world which are in proximity to turtle habitats, like in the Florida Bay, in Mexico, in Australia, in the Middle East.
  • Amlan Dutta: And practices being followed there were adapted here too. Lighting was so designed that all light fixtures have no light spillage towards the sky
  • Susan Sharma: How are they saving the turtles?
  • Susan Sharma: I mean in the foreign countries.
  • Susan Sharma: I see.
  • Susan Sharma: What about dredging?
  • Amlan Dutta: Only light fixtures which were approved during field tests conducted in the presence of IUCN Project Manager (for the Dhamra Project) are being used in outdoor lighting of the port
  • Amlan Dutta: A lot of material is available here >> http://www.iucn.org/about/union/secretariat/offices/asia/asia_where_work/india_programme_office/india_programmes_and_initiatives/dhamra_port/
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: At one stage the naturalists had also talked about noise levels, lubricant spills in water, disturbance to nesting areas etc because of dredging and sane mining
  • Amlan Dutta: Regarding Dredging, we found that the US Army Corps of Engineers & the NOAA monitor all riverine dredging projects in the state. Even while their Dredgers have a different design than the Belgian Dredgers of our Belgian Dredging Contractor, we adapted the physical modifications required in the dredgers for safe dredging
  • Susan Sharma: Is IUCN involved in other Indian projects too?
  • Amlan Dutta: a 24 hour observer protocol was followed and is being followed in all instances where Hopper Dredgers are used. Scientists from the Marine Turtle Specialist Group (IUCN) who are with NOAA & USACE have determined in their studies & over a period of 20+ years of monitoring dredging projects that only hopper dredgers can harm turtles..
  • Susan Sharma: Are you monitoring the Olive Ridley populations as the project is getting constructed for any fluctuations?
  • Amlan Dutta: Dear Shashi, we have a zero discharge policy, as in there is no discharge or spillage to the sea. We recycle our water.
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: That is something. I am saying that if there are 4-5 Projects under implementation in India and they have working with various think tanks arrived at some best practices, can something be done abour documenting these and sending them on to Govt. departments
  • Amlan Dutta: Yes Shashi, that is correct, there were concerns over the noise & beach erosion. Fact is IUCN scientists who have been working on similar projects ruled out the port site and its vicinity as to be the habitat of turtles. The beach profile down south of the Dhamra river is also physically very different and is sandy all the way down to Tamil Nadu, while towards the North of River Dhamra its muddy.
  • Amlan Dutta: We however chose to ask the National Insititute of Goa to conduct studies on Beach Erosion and any possible effect of dredging on the beach profile in Gahirmatha
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: That is great
  • Susan Sharma: How do you sum up your experience at Dhamra in comparison to your earlier work experiences?
  • Amlan Dutta: You are right Shashi, interestingly, Gopalpur port has been asked to follow our guidelines on lighting by Dr. B.C. Choudhury (Wildlife Institute of India)
  • Amlan Dutta: No Susan,, currently no, IUCN is however in talks with Tata Steel for a similar collaboration
  • Amlan Dutta: There could have been a Hard Core EHS Professional doing my job, but there surely would have been a difference in understanding the holistic impact positive changes in environment management can bring to the company
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: Sure Companies, project developers proactively documenting and making public what they will do/not do at site in the interest of sustainability, will surely help deal with cutting delays
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: EHS has by definition remained focussed on the area within the factory and limited to work force
  • Amlan Dutta: No Susan, the port was not shifted from its original location. That could never be done physically, as moving up north, we would not have a viable navigational channel & south is Gahirmatha. The Port location was identified by IIT, Chennai well before the port was planned by the State Govt of Odisha.
  • Amlan Dutta: The Port is operational now, the only Public - Private Partnership (PPP) Project which completed on schedule in Odisha
  • Susan Sharma: After the port became operational, what is the position of Olive Ridley Turtles?
  • Amlan Dutta: To summarize, its been an absolutely fascinating work over here at Dhamra. From a wildlife biologist & litigation specialist (yes, I was that at WTI) it has been a transformation to a environment manager, managing the environment health of the company. I am responsible for environment compliances to the MoEF, The State Pollution Board, the State CZMA.
  • Amlan Dutta: While my initiail expertise has helped in my current job, but that itself would not have been enough. I also needed to learn to manage contracts, payments & other administrative tasks.
  • Susan Sharma: I do want an answer about the turtles too, then we can call it a day.
  • Susan Sharma: May be we will leave the turtles for another day,s chat
  • Susan Sharma: Thank you Amlan, for giving a new perspective to development. The discussion has only begun
  • Susan Sharma: Hope to hear more from you another day. Good night
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Online Courses on the study of birds - July, 2015
Rewilding degraded Land- practical experiences - June, 2015
Why are vultures important for Swachh Bharat? - May, 2015
Green Living - March, 2015
Restoring degraded lands for wildlife - January, 2015
Insect Tourism - November, 2014
Use of GIS and Remote Sensing for Biodiversity Conservation - October, 2014
Why celebrate wildlife week? - September, 2014
Wildlife Film making - July, 2014
Wildlife Film making - June, 2014
Sharing of Experiences by our wilderness volunteers - May, 2014
Online Environmental Courses - March, 2014
Decreasing tolerance of backyard wildife - February, 2014
Frogs of India - January, 2014
Sustainable Development: The Right Approach - December, 2013
Tiger Cyclowalk- an Interview with Sunil Joshi - December, 2013
Tiger Cyclowalk - Highlands to Ocean - November, 2013
Volunteering at Melghat Tiger Reserve - October, 2013
Role of Citizens in Scientific Research - September, 2013
Ranthambore Adventure - January, 2013
Bats-The Night Warriors - October, 2012
Man vs Tiger-Can Science help? - July, 2012
Human Elephant Conflict - June, 2012
Saving the one horned rhino - May, 2012
"Man-Leopard Conflict - how we can deal with it" - April, 2012
Environment and Wildlife Film making - March, 2012
"Rainforest Wildlife-Unique adaptations" - February, 2012
Conserving wildlife in fragmented landscapes - January, 2012
Urban Biodiversity - September, 2011
Green Hiking in the Himalayas - August, 2011
Role of Zoos in Conservation - July, 2011
Reduce, Recycle and Reuse - June, 2011
Black Necked Cranes - symbol of the rising Green Consciousness - May, 2011
Wildlife Issues in the North -East of India - April, 2011
Trekking in the Himalaya - March, 2011
Conservation of Marine Diversity in India - February, 2011
Plant native trees this monsoon - January, 2011
Human Elephant Conflict - December, 2010
Conservation and Development in Emerging India - November, 2010
"WILL ANIMALS ADAPT TO ANOTHER HABITAT........ - October, 2010
Responsible Tourism- Way forward to conservation? - September, 2010
Vulture Conservation in India - August, 2010
Plant a tree (trees) this monsoon - June, 2010
Role of Urban Birds - April, 2008
"Role of Urban Birds" - April, 2008
GM Foods and Bio-diversity - March, 2008
Taking Responsibility for One's Carbon Emissions - February, 2008
Ecological Security - January, 2008
The Himalayan Musk Deer - November, 2007
Urban Wildlife - October, 2007
Disappearing Tigers: Taking Stock - August, 2007
Garbage littered on our Streets - July, 2007
Bear Conservation nad Protection - June, 2007
Role of Captive Elephants in wildlife conservation - May, 2007
Endangered Animals of Sikkim - April, 2007
Citizen Participation in Environmental Issues - March, 2007
Vulture crisis in India - January, 2007
City Parks and Biodiversity - December, 2006
Why is bird census important? - November, 2006
Shooting Wildlife with a Camera - October, 2006
Rain Harvesting - September, 2006
Environmental Education - July, 2006
Tribal Bill - June, 2006
Trekking in the Himalaya Region - May, 2006
Trekking in the Himalayas - May, 2006
Coastal Wildlife - April, 2006
MARINE BIOLOGY - March, 2006
Atmospheric Brown Cloud - February, 2006
Tiger Census - January, 2006
Tiger Task Force Report - December, 2005
Marine Ecosystems Chat dated 18 November 2005 - November, 2005
Coral Reefs - October, 2005
Global Warming - September, 2005
Tourism and Wildlife - August, 2005
Environment Education - July, 2005
Wild Elephants - May, 2005
Tiger Census - April, 2005
Enforcement of Wildlife Act and the Common Man - January, 2005
Crane Migration - November, 2004
Migratory birds of India - October, 2004
Offences Against Wildlife - September, 2004
Man Animal Conflict - August, 2004
Recent Amendments to the Wildlife Act - July, 2004
Is there a case for keeping large mammals in zoos? - June, 2004
Captive elephant management - May, 2004
Conservation of seaturtles - April, 2004
Asiatic Lion - March, 2004
Plight of lesser animals - February, 2004
Mangroves of India - January, 2004
DEER AND ANTELOPE - November, 2003
PHEASANTS - October, 2003
Amphibians - September, 2003
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Chat on Rare Birds - August, 2002
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