The Gulf of Mannar is a protected geographical location whose shallow waters are home to highly endangered species of flora and fauna. The waters are also pearl oysters banks that contribute directly to the livelihood of fishermen and local families. The gulf is an economically viable site for India’s offshore wind projects. The offshore wind project comes with a lot of benefits for the local community but it would also affect the biodiversity of the locale affecting the livelihood of the people living around the area.
The noise pollution, laying of cables alone can affect marine life, the lives of people living in the area and sea birds. It is believed that the Impact assessment will help identify the challenges and a bird sensitivity map can help gain a better understanding of the avian population that could come in contact with the turbines.
An impact on marine life is a direct impact on the people dependent on fish and other marine lives for sustenance, the local fishermen of Mannar. The local fishermen around the Dhanushkodi point and the villages nearby have been practising traditional fishing and the collection of pearl oysters for ages now. Their lives will change when there are going to be huge cranes, heavy machinery and big turbines interrupting their occupation. The wind farm is going to come with a lot of infrastructural modifications, something the locals might find hard to wrap their head around.
However, the wind turbines would mean permanent electricity for the area. A dream almost everyone in the area can get behind. They strongly believe that electricity has the potential to make a difference in all their lives and the lives of those who come after them.
Some locals also believe that the wind farm project should involve locals in the planning and implementation. It will make them all feel more connected with the project.
The scope of the revolutionary offshore wind project is vast. It could be a milestone for India as it plans to transition to clean energy. But the road to this significant milestone is going to be filled with challenges mainly pertaining to the lives of fishermen and the rich marine biodiversity.