Odisha Govt Urges DRDO To Pause Missile Testing During Mass Nesting Of Sea Turtles

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has urged DRDO authorities to restrict missile testing off Odisha coast during the mass nesting season of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles that usually takes place during February-March.

This was stated after a meeting of the high-power committee chaired by chief secretary P K Jena in Bhubaneswar. The annual plan for Olive Ridley mass nesting was also finalised at the meeting.

According to sources, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was requested not to carry out any missile testing during the mass nesting period as it could affect the breeding and nesting of the sea turtles.

The DRDO was also urged to nominate a nodal officer for better coordination with the Forest department during the nesting period of the sea turtles. The state government also asked collectors and SPs of coastal districts to cooperate with DFOs concerned for protection of Olive Ridley turtles.

Under the plan, the Home department will deploy seven sections of APR force for joint sea patrolling with forest staff during the sea turtle nesting season as per requisition of DFOs of Berhampur, Bhadrak, Puri and Rajnagar Mangrove Forest (Wildlife) divisions.

The Fisheries and Animal Resources Development department will also join the Indian Coast Guard for sea patrolling along with the staff of Forest department.

The DFO of Berhampur will coordinate with the Ganjam collector for establishment of a Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Centre at Rushikulya river mouth in the district. Besides, the ‘Secure Fishing Mobile Application’ developed by Fisheries department will be widely publicised for use among the fishermen for detection of ‘No Fishing Zone’. A record 6.56 lakh turtles had laid eggs at Rushikulya rookery in Ganjam while a 5.12 lakh turtles turned up for mass nesting in Gahirmatha in 2022-23.

PCCF (Wildlife) and chief wildlife warden Susanta Nanda, who coordinated the meeting, said the turtle nesting site in Gahirmatha is very close to the Wheeler Island and missile testing is likely to distract the sea turtles. Therefore, missile testing needs to be restricted during the nesting period.

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