THERE IS another side to the story behind your article "The P&O port that no one wants" (1 February) about the proposed port in Dahanu Taluka, India and the effect it will have on the local Warli tribal population.

A majority of Dahanu's 176,000 Warli population are employed as casual labour on orchards. Many are paid less than the minimum wage and as a group suffer high child-mortality and illiteracy rates. The construction of a port at Vadhavan will bring a large number of jobs whichshould raise wage levels substantially. The rich orchard owners therefore, feel threatened by the project, and some have campaigned to prevent it. They use environmental issues as a means to further this campaign.

Some argue that the tribes should be preserved without change, yet the socio-economic profile of Warlis - the majority are casual labourers on orchards - gives the lie to idea that they are not already assimilated. Ultimately the choice of lifestyle must surely rest with them alone. In the long run, there is no way to prevent people from pursuing economic well-being. The pursuit of development is now a universal goal. It cannot be restricted to certain groups.

Jimmy Sarbh

P&O Ports India Pvt Ltd

Mumbai, India