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Boulders used for Dhanushkodi road may destroy turtles’ nesting spots

While the road laying works has come as a boon for the small group of residents in Dhanushkodi, the same has proved to be bane of turtles as their nesting spots (places where they lay eggs) may get destroyed.

Boulders used for Dhanushkodi road may destroy turtles’ nesting spots
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Road laying works in progress and large boulders seen near the coast in Dhanushkodi

Madurai

Local activists are now up in arms against the road have demanded the Central and State governments not to lay boulder stones on Dhanushkodi coast. This threat comes at a time when there was an increase in the number of turtles coming to this region to lay eggs.

A new 9.5-km road from Muhuntharayapuram to Arichalmunai, on the tip of Dhanushkodi island is being laid at a cost of Rs 50 crore. The road work is in its last leg. 

Huge boulders are being used for the road as it suffered severe damage last year owing to strong breeze. However, the use of boulders has drawn severe criticisms from the local activists. Forest department officials are also and of the same view that the road work might disturb be egg laying process by turtles which would lead to decline in the number of amphibians coming to this region. 

Recently, state government had notified that turtles were getting affected due to fishing and hence, no fishing activity should be carried out within 5 nautical miles from the shore. The government’s blaming fishermen was not received well by the coastal community and the activists. 

Speaking to DTNext, C R Senthil, State General Secretary, Fishing Workers Union (CITU), claimed, “The State government is blaming the fishermen. But the mess was actually created by the government in the name of development. According to popular belief among fishermen, sight of turtles in the sea are sign of good fortunes and because of this they used to preserve them..” 

The real damage to the egg laying pattern is due to the laying of large boulders in the coastal area. Due to the boulders, turtles will not find a suitable place to hatch their eggs and hence highways department and district administration should stop laying boulders, claimed Senthil. 

Officials from forest department are also of the same view. Sathish Kumar, Forest Ranger, Rameswaram, claimed, “the Gulf of Mannar is home for more than 3,000 marine beings. Green and Big Headed turtles are found in large numbers in this region. There are five important spots at Dhanushkodi for turtles laying eggs and in those spots, more than 10,000 eggs had been recovered this year, which is 250 times higher compared to the previous years. 

Dhanushkodi offers the best hatching conditions for turtles and their habit of is to return to the same spot every year for hatching. If there is any disturbance to their tradition nests, the hatching process would be affected, which would result in decrease in population of turtles.

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