Dear Chief Minister, Visit Pulicat for a Traditional Tamil Seafood Feast

Respected Chief Minister

9 September, 2021

We are women from Pazhaverkadu, Thiruvallur district. On behalf of our people, we invite you and your family to a seafood feast in our village on 16 October, 2021 – the UN World Food Day. Fish is among the healthiest of foods, and Pazhaverkadu is famous for its tasty, wholesome and healthy seafood. We hope you will take us up on our invitation, and sample the traditional recipes prepared using the fish of the season.

As women, we do a lot more than just cook fish — from catching fish, to curing it, auctioning and marketing it and adding value to the fish catch in myriad ways, women are the backbone of the fisheries economy of the region. That said, food is important. In food, there is tradition and the hand-me-down wisdom of our women ancestors.

Our invitation to you is our way of wishing you good health and a long life, and thanking you for reassuring us in the beginning of this assembly session that you will fulfil your election promises. We are sure you recall the threat to our lives, living spaces and livelihoods posed by the megaport proposed by Adani. Your promise means a lot to us.

Between the sea and the Pazhaverkadu lagoon, we are blessed with year-round fishing, and fish-consumers with year-round availability of fish. The nearshore area that Adani wishes to convert into land by dumping earth into the sea is also one of the most productive areas in the sea. Fish are not found everywhere at sea. The best places to find them are in places where the ocean floor has Paar (rocks/reefs) or Seru (mud). These are the best fishing grounds. The portion of the sea where Adani’s port is proposed has six seru paguthi (where ocean floor is muddy). These seru are so important to our livelihoods that we have given each one its own name – Alamaram seru, lock seru, kalanji seru, kalanji koda seru, koda seru. These are the grounds where the kanankeluthi, mulima, panna, kala, kadal kezhangan, udupathi, navarai, sankara, semakkera, vellra and kadal nandu graze.

The fish, and the seas and the lagoon that they come from may be the same, but our recipes are as rich and diverse as tamil society. Hindu, muslim, christian – each of us that calls Pazhaverkadu our home has our own specialities and signature recipes. We believe our multicultural food and our peaceful seaside location will please your palate and relax your mind.We do not wish to use our invitation to a feast as a time to speak about the dangers of the proposed port. Rather we wish you to come to our village to taste the food to understand the correctness of your promise to cancel the port.

We promise that amongst us, you will experience a slice of Tamil Nadu that you will forever cherish.

With love and respect.

Women of Pazhaverkadu

TANGEDCO Dumps Toxic Sea Sand in Kosasthalai River; Ignores NGT Ban

தமிழ் செய்திக்குறிப்பு கீழே

Ignoring a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order banning the use of dredged sea sand to reclaim waterbodies, TANGEDCO has blocked the Kosasthalai River’s backwaters using dredged sea sand with dangerous levels of arsenic, cadmium, copper and chromium. Sand samples collected from the reclaimed portion of the river contained 14.96 mg/kg of Arsenic, more than two times the Interim Sediment Quality Guideline (ISQG) for aquatic sediment of 7.24 mg/kg, 15.23 mg/kg of cadmium, more than 20 times ISQG, 23.54 mg/kg of copper which is 1.25 times ISQG and 106.1 mg/kg of chromium, which is more than twice safe levels in aquatic sediments. The ISQGs are safe threshold levels of chemicals for protection of aquatic life, and represent levels above which toxic effects on aquatic life may occur. The samples were taken on 14 July, 2021 and were analysed at the US Environmental Protection Agency-approved Chester LabNet.

A January 2020 report submitted to the NGT by a joint committee of Central Pollution Control Board and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board found that sea sand dredged and dumped in the Ennore Creek by Kamarajar Port contained very high concentrations of magnesium, aluminum, potassium, chromium, lead and calcium, and high concentrations of other toxic metals like copper, nickel and zinc. The levels of these metals found in the samples taken from TANGEDCO’s dumpsite inside the river are far higher than even the very high concentrations reported by the joint committee.

Movement of sand is a strictly regulated activity. However, given the prevalent lawlessness in the Ennore-Kattupalli area, sea sand is routinely transported from the ports to various places without license from the revenue authorities. This matter has been brought to the notice of the revenue authorities.

On 19 July, 2021, fishers from Kattukuppam occupied the site of the illegal encroachment in Kosasthalai River by the coal conveyor corridor for TANGEDCO’s Ennore SEZ project. A 3-member citizen panel has written on this matter to the Chief Minister and Chief Justice of Madras High Court echoing the demands of the fishers. They have called for an immediate halt to any further dumping, and recommended removal of dumped sand and restoration of the wetlands.

“Fish is an inexpensive source of protein for the poor. Dumping contaminated sand in this section of the river is like poisoning their food. This is the place where we catch the fish that we sell in the market”, said R.L. Srinivasan, a fisherman from Kattukuppam. 

Contamination of river due to industrial pollution, coal ash leakage and dumping of toxic material such as contaminated sand dredged from the harbour basin has degraded the river water quality and harmed fish population. Health of Ennore fishers is severely impacted due to contamination of river and fish. Exposure to contaminated water while fishing has chronic skin diseases among fishers. Consumption of contaminated seafood may also lead to health impacts. With a public health infrastructure that is not sensitive to the special needs of this pollution-impacted community, health issues due to industrial pollution go untreated.

Fisherfolk have demanded that all further encroachment of the river bed should be stopped, and the river should be restored to good health.

For more information, contact: 

Pooja Kumar (Save Ennore Creek Campaign): 9791122180

R.L. Srinivasan (Kattukuppam fisherman): 99627 33450

Blog: storyofennore.wordpress.com 

Table Comparing Concentration of Metals in Dredged Material Samples taken by 

NGT Appointed Joint Committee of IIT-CPCB-TNPCB 

Vs. 

Independent Sampling by Save Ennore Creek Campaign 

Parameter







Unit:  mg/kg (μg/g)
Highest concentration metals in soil samples collected from 10 dumpsites of Kamarajar Port
(IIT-CPCB-TNPCB Joint committee)

Unit: mg/kg  (μg/g)

Concentration of metals in soil sample collected from TANGEDCO’s dumpsite
(Save Ennore Creek Campaign)

Unit: mg/kg  (μg/g)
Canadian Interim Sediment Quality Guideline for protection of (marine) aquatic life




Unit: mg/kg (μg/g)
As6.314.967.24
Al11,130.435,760
Cd15.230.7
Co15.51
Cr32.1106.152.3
Cu11.823.5418.7
Fe7821.724,850
K3,537.514,790
Mg7,352.34,199
Ni13.239.33
Pb12.714.12
Zn35.857.33
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Let Chennai Breathe – Public Health Experts Demand for a Robust Air Quality Action Plan to Protect Citizen’s Health

For the fourth year since 2016 air quality across Chennai City is consistently poor said researchers at Healthy Energy Initiative (India). On average, 24 hour samples collected from 20 locations across Chennai City in February-March 2021 exceeded the Indian 24-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM2.5 of 60 µg/m3 by 1.1 to 3.8 times. This study analysed the 24-hr air samples heavy metals in addition to for PM2.5. Locations sampled for the study included neighbourhoods that are industrial, commercial and residential in nature. The results of the study indicate that there is a need for the Chennai Corporation and other Urban Local Bodies to develop a robust local level air quality monitoring and plan to control air pollution and protect public health. 

Among the samples taken –Thirusulam (near airport), Parry’s corner and Vyasarpadi (near an Electroplating Industry) locations had levels of PM2.5 between 228 and 176 µg/m3 which is categorised as  “Very Unhealthy– People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity” as per U.S. EPA. 

Levels of PM2.5 at Thiruvottiyur, Kasimedu (near harbour), Thoraipakkam (near dump-yard), Kuruvimedu (near Vallur Thermal Power plant’s coal ash pond), Sholinganallur (near OMR highway), Velachery, Nochikuppam, Kodungaiyur (near dump-yard), Minjur, Urnamedu, Seppakkam (near NCTPS’ coal ash pond), Sriperumbudur,T Nagar, Athipattu, Kattukuppam, Ambattur had levels of PM2.5 between 128 and 59 µg/m3 would be considered by the U.S. EPA as “Unhealthy – People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity.”

Kattupalli kuppam had PM2.5 levels of 53 µg/m3 and would be considered “Unhealthy for sensitive groups – People with vulnerabilities such as asthma, older adults and with chronic diseases”.  

“People living around these sampling locations seem to have lost their right to clean air. Despite the COVID pandemic, every single breath of polluted air taken by people in these regions has an added danger in lowering their lung capacity and eventually reducing their life expectancy. This can in turn increase the hospital admission, emergency visits and fatalities which can be identified only through a health assessment in areas concerned” said Dr. Gajapriya, an air pollution researcher with Healthy Energy Initiative (India).

The authors also reveal that the sampling results indicate the lapse on the part of regulatory agencies to control emissions from the sources. 

From the samples taken around the city, it was found that the presence of Silica, Manganese and Nickel were beyond the annual average level of exposure. Citizens living in the 19 locations where levels of silica were high are at risk of chronic lung problems and sometimes serious or fatal illnesses that can be irreversible. Manganese is a known neurotoxin that affects the neurobehavioral functions and prolonged exposure can cause permanent brain damage of the person exposed. Manganese exceeded safe limits in 12 sampling locations. Nickel which is a potent carcinogen can also affect the respiratory and immune systems in the body. This can also cause reproductive issues in people.

“PM2.5 can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the blood system causing increased risk of heart and respiratory diseases, premature mortality etc. Children, Women, outdoor workers and patients with chronic illness are more susceptible to PM2.5 exposure impacts. In addition to PM2.5, exposure to heavy metals can lead to health damages of serious public concern across Chennai city” said by Dr.Manikanda Nesan, Public Health Expert in Chennai. 

Interventions resulting in a reduction in the health effects of air pollution range from regulatory measures like stricter air quality standards, limits for emissions from various sources, structural changes such as reducing energy consumption, especially that based on combustion sources, changing modes of transport, land use planning as well as behavioural changes by individuals. 

“Cities should understand their responsibility in safeguarding the health of the people. Air pollution is an invisible killer which should be tackled on a war footing. Regulative protocols with guiding principles, informing the public on impacts along with decision-makers support must be taken to streamline this issue concerning public health.” Said Dr.Vishvaja Sambath, Air pollution Researcher at Healthy Energy Initiative (India).

Air pollution does not recognize geographic boundaries. Some pollutants can travel great distances affecting air quality and public health locally, regionally and even farther. For this reason, a regional approach is necessary to stop the exposure of pollutants. Each city should have an action plan with guiding protocols to prevent the emissions from the facilities or sources within its borders from contributing significantly to air quality problems.   

For More Information, contact – Gajapriya G: +91 8098983105; Vishvaja Sambath: +91 9629505983

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TANGEDCO’s Illegalities and Liabilities in Ennore Will Haunt the Exchequer: Panel Warns

Coming down heavily on TANGEDCO’s continuing illegalities in Ennore Creek, a three-member citizen panel wrote to the Chief Justice of Madras High Court, the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary urging them to ensure that TANGEDCO functions lawfully. The panel, comprising Prof. S. Janakarajan, singer and activist T.M. Krishna and G.Sundarrajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal cautioned the government that TANGEDCO’s exposure to liabilities arising from its reckless violation of laws in Ennore will place a substantial burden on the exchequer. “We are appealing to the Hon’ble Chief Justice because TANGEDCO has functioned as if it is above the law for all these years, and its pollution in Ennore has hurt the poor, including women fishers who hand-pick prawns from the river, the worst. They need to be compensated for lost livelihoods and health,” the panelists explained.

Already, the wetlands in Ennore have lost more than 1500 acres of its water spread to industrial activities including coal yards, petroleum terminals, thermal power plant facilities and ash ponds. More than 1000 acres of the Kosasthalai River is choked with coal ash.

Responding to an invitation by fishers from Kattukuppam and the Save Ennore Creek campaign, the panel visited Ennore on 12.07.2021 to inspected two ongoing civil construction activities by TANGEDCO, namely:

a) Construction of a bridge to carry coal ash slurry pipelines from NCTPS Stage III to an ash dyke in Sepakkam Village

b) Construction of a coal conveyor and seawater corridor from Kamarajar Port to the 2×660 MW Ennore SEZ project under construction in Voyalur.

The panel found that:

a) TANGEDCO has demonstrated a willful disregard for the law, and its operations are in violation of laws and license conditions, and in contempt of several orders of various courts.

b) the NCTPS ash pipeline bridge falls afoul of the EIA Notification, 2006, CRZ Notification, 2011, the Air Act, 1981, the Water Act, 1976, G.O. Ms No. 213 of 1989 and various other court orders. This project lacks an Environmental Clearance, CRZ clearance and Consents to Establish under

Air and Water Acts.

c) the coal-seawater conveyor corridor for the Ennore SEZ project has deviated from its approved alignment to chart a course through the river and waterbodies encroaching on mangroves and critical fish habitat. This project lacks a valid Consent to Establish under Air and Water Acts, and is in violation of the EIA Notification, 2006, CRZ Notification, 2011, the Air Act, 1981, the Water

Act, 1976, G.O. Ms No. 213 of 1989 and various other court orders.

d) TANGEDCO’s operations have damaged the livelihood commons used by fishermen and women fishers. This harm to livelihoods appears to have resulted in significant impoverishment of the fishing community and those dependent on the backwater for their livelihoods.

e) Industrial investments in this region have only impoverished communities, and local people have not even benefited in terms of secure jobs in the industries

f ) TANGEDCO’s exposure to liabilities in the form of clean-up costs, penalties and fines for legal violations and harm to ecology, compensation for lost livelihoods and damaged health and criminal action are substantial. Considering the financial state of TANGEDCO, these liabilities are likely to place a substantial burden on the exchequer.

The administration should not underestimate the extent to which the ongoing activities aggravate disaster risks for the region. The government also needs to note that the already substantial liability, in terms of penalties, compensation for fisher livelihoods and harm to health, remediation costs

and criminal prosecution of TANGEDCO officials will be magnified if corrective action is not taken immediately. This can be debilitating, especially for a financially ailing TANGEDCO.

We urge the Government to step in, verify our claims and remedy the situation. We request you to do the following:

1. Ensure that TANGEDCO stops all work on the construction of the conveyor belt for the Ennore SEZ, removes all dumped material and restore the river to its original state.

2. Ensure that TANGEDCO pays for a scientific remediation of the Ennore Creek by removing all flyash and debris dumped in the Buckingham Canal, the river, its backwaters and flood plains and abandoned salt pans.

3. Compensate fisherfolk, including Irular and SC women and men who handpick prawns and crabs, forloss of livelihood due to contamination of the Ennore Creek.

4. Compensate local residents for loss of health and quality of life due to air pollution from NCTPS and associated impacts.

5. Provide permanent jobs for affected people.

6. Relocate residents of Seppakkam hamlet near the ash dyke to a safe site and provide them with adequate freshwater in the interim.

7. Cease operation of the unlined ash pond in Sepakkam village and shift to 100% dry collection of fly ash.

8. Comply with Hon’ble NGT’s order directing prosecution of TANGEDCO officials responsible for continued violations in contempt of High Court and NGT orders for cessation of flyash discharge and removal of contaminated material from riverbed.

9. Take action against errant TANGEDCO officials for having signed a false declaration regarding compliance to EC/CRZ clearance.

For more information, contact:

Nityanand Jayaraman, Save Ennore Creek Campaign: 9444082401

R. L. Srinivasan, Fisher, Kattukuppam: 9962733450

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Admin Responds to Fisher Protest; TANGEDCO asked to Stop Work at Ennore SEZ site


More than 250 fishers, including children and women from Kattukuppam in Ennore, called off their protests, dismantled the tents and returned home in boats after the Ponneri Tahsildar directed TANGEDCO to stop work on the Ennore SEZ’s coal conveyor corridor until the matter has been further investigated. Accusing TANGEDCO of changing the approved alignment of the conveyor belt with no prior permission and undertaking civil work that has encroached into the river and destroyed mangroves, the Ennore Fishers demanded that TANGEDCO should stop its ongoing and illegal work, remove the sand already dumped in the river, restore the waterbody to its original condition and compensate the fishers for damaged livelihoods, including by offering jobs to people from the affecting villages.

Reacting to the gathering, Ponneri Tahsildar Manikandan halted the construction and said he would intimate his superiors about the fishers’ desire to meet the District Collector.

Konamudukku Pazhankalvai — refers to the Old Channel of the Kosasthalai River — is the last remaining healthy stand of mangroves in the river’s tidal backwaters. TANGEDCO’s illegal dumping has buried a prominent fishing ground called Pazhankalvai Pin Paadu and covered the biologically active mud where prawns breed with dredged sea sand.

Ennore Fishers Stop TANGEDCO From Burying River, Mangroves

After government and regulatory agencies refused to stop TANGEDCO from destroying mangroves and encroaching into the Kosasthalai River, more than 200 men and women from Ennore’s fishing villages arrived in boats to the work site to protect the precious Konamudukku mangrove patch from being cleared. The coal conveyor corridor for TANGEDCO’s Ennore SEZ project has already encroached into more than 15 acres of wetlands, including 1.1 acre of river and mangroves. On 13 July, the Electricity Minister said TANGEDCO’s activities were perfectly legal. But the company’s activities do not have a valid Consent to Establish from TNPCB. Moreover, the electricity company has made false declarations to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to get approval for its coal conveyor corridor. After using an alignment that avoids waterbodies to get an approval, TANGEDCO has illegally altered the alignment without informing the Union environment ministry. The current alignment is unapproved and runs mostly on waterbodies and mangroves. 

Map Showing the Approved Alignment vs the Unlicensed Alignment Undertaken by TANGEDCO

If work continues at the current pace, the Konamudukku mangroves – identified as a No Development Zone in the approved 2018 Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) – will be buried under 2 metres of sand within days. Local villagers complained that already one fishing ground locally known as padu — the Pazhaiyakal Pin Padu – has been buried by the ongoing encroachment.

Konamudukku is one of the most biologically productive patches remaining in the Ennore Pulicat wetlands. Five species of commercially valuable prawns – Vellra (white prawns), Mottra (Horned prawn), Kadamb Era (tiger prawn), Valchera (mud prawn) and Semakku Era (red prawns) – breed in the Konamudukku mangrove forests, making the waters around these mangroves among the choicest of fishing grounds. Besides fishermen who use boats, stake nets and hand cast nets, more than 2500 women from SC/ST communities earn a livelihood by hand-picking prawn and crab from mangroves such as this.

Fishers are disappointed with the government for refusing to stop TANGEDCO’s ongoing violation to save the environment and their livelihoods. “We know agencies like TNPCB will not dare regulate big and powerful violators. That is why we brought the matter to the notice of the district administration, and the environment and electricity ministers. Now, we are appealing to the Chief Minister because none of these people appear to care for our lives. We have already lost a lot to coal ash pollution by TANGEDCO and encroachments by roads, pipelines and infrastructure for power plants, coal yards and ports. Now, one of the last remaining sources of livelihood for us and numerous others including women fishers is being targeted. If Konamudukku mangroves and the deep waters around it are destroyed, we will be finished. It is telling about the state of affairs when all agencies of government are conspiring to commit an offence, and ordinary people are forced to intervene to enforce the law.” the fishers said.

On 12 July, a team of three eminent citizens – including Prof. S. Janakarajan, musician and activist T.M. Krishna and Poovulagin Nanbargal’s G. Sundarrajan – visited two sites of ongoing encroachment and violations by TANGEDCO. In a report submitted by them to the Chief Minister, the three said that “TANGEDCO is misleading the government on its illegalities.” They warned that “The government needs to note that the already substantial liability, in terms of penalties, compensation for fisher livelihoods and harm to health, remediation costs and criminal prosecution of TANGEDCO officials will be magnified if corrective action is not taken immediately.” 

Villagers and city-based activist groups such as Save Ennore Creek campaign have asked the government to ensure that the ongoing work is stopped, the damage to ecology reversed and fisherfolk compensated for the damage to their livelihoods.

For more information, contact: K. Saravanan: 9176331717. Nityanand Jayaraman: 9444082401 (Save Ennore Creek Campaign)

R.L. Srinivasan: 9962733450. Fisherman, Ennore

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Citizen Mapping Nails TANGEDCO Lies about Waterbody Encroachment

14 July, 2021. CHENNAI — Deviating entirely from the Union environment ministry-approved alignment for the coal conveyor corridor, TANGEDCO’s Ennore SEZ project is laying its corridor in an unapproved route by dumping illegally transported dredged sea sand and flyash into waterbodies, including the Kosasthalai River’s tidal channel. TANGEDCO has misled the minister into issuing a statement that all is legal. A groundtruthing exercise using a handheld GPS by Save Ennore Creek campaign has revealed that the ongoing construction has already led to the loss of more than 15 acres of wetlands, including 1.1 acres of the Kosasthalai river. If allowed to proceed, this alignment will claim an additional 2.4 acres of river-spread including mangroves.

After using an alignment that avoids waterbodies to get an approval, TANGEDCO has illegally altered the alignment without informing the Union environment ministry, and gone ahead with a completely different alignment that runs mostly on waterbodies.

According to local fisherfolk, Konamudukku Kalvai which is the area of the river being encroached by TANGEDCO is one of the most biologically productive segments in the area. The presence of mangroves and deep-water habitats make this a sheltered breeding place for prawns. Fishers report a drastic drop in fish catch over the last three months. “Enough is enough. We are going to pursue this to its logical end. We want these encroachments removed, and we want to be fully compensated for the damage done to our source of livelihood,” said R.L. Srinivasan of Kattukuppam fishing village.

“TANGEDCO’s audacity in misleading the minister, and the irrelevance of TNPCB as a regulator spotlights the absence of the rule of law in Tamil Nadu. This is a test case for the new government to walk its talk about providing a clean administration. Given the encouraging steps taken by the government in the appointments of efficient senior environment and forest staff, we are hopeful that the government will ensure that the law prevails in this case,” Save Ennore Creek campaign and the region’s fishers said in a statement.

On 12 July, a three-member team comprising Prof. S. Janakarajan, artist and activists T.M. Krishna and Poovulagin Nanbargal G. Sundarrajan visited Ennore and highlighted TANGEDCO’s ongoing illegalities.

Shortly, Save Ennore Creek campaign will release a second set of documents highlighting how TANGEDCO misled the minister about the legality of NCTPS’ operations in Ennore.

For more information, contact:

K. Saravanan: 9176331717. Nityanand Jayaraman: 9444082401 (Save Ennore Creek Campaign)

R.L. Srinivasan: 9962733450. Fisherman, Ennore

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TANGEDCO has turned Ennore Creek into an Environmental Crime Scene

The three-member team consisting of Prof. Janakarajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal G. Sundarrajan and musician T.M. Krishna that verified the violation at the behest of the Save Ennore Creek campaign and local fisherfolk

தமிழுக்கு கீழே காண்க

12 July, 2021. Chennai — TANGEDCO’s civil works have blocked the flow of the Kosasthalai river and damaged mangroves and the riverbed in two places in Puzhuthivakkam near Ennore. A three-member team consisting of Prof. Janakarajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal G. Sundarrajan and musician T.M. Krishna that verified the violation at the behest of the Save Ennore Creek campaign and local fisherfolk said TANGEDCO cannot be exempted from the law and should not be allowed to damage waterbodies.

Already, more than 1000 acres of the river’s backwaters are heavily contaminated with flyash from the leaking pipelines of TANGEDCO. An order of the National Green Tribunal directing TANGEDCO to clear out the flyash has been ignored by the electricity company.

Now, a bridge to support an pipeline for carrying coal-ash from Stage III of North Chennai Thermal Power Station to the leaking ash dyke in Seppakkam is being constructed by dumping construction debris and sand on the riverbed and the water courses. The current construction is happening alongside the existing ash pipeline road that has the old and leaking pipelines for TANGEDCO’s Stage I and II power plants. TANGEDCO has not obtained environmental clearance or Consent to Operate under Air and Water Acts for this project.

A second bridge is being constructed to carry a coal conveyor belt and seawater from Kamarajar Port to TANGEDCO’s Ennore SEZ power plant. Instead of using existing facilities, including the Chettinad Coal Yard – also illegally constructed – and minimising damage to the river, TANGEDCO is building new facilities that have destroyed mangroves, damaged the river bed, blocked the flow of water and harmed the livelihood of fisherfolk. The ongoing construction is in violation of license conditions that require TANGEDCO to ensure that its civil works do not block the tidal flow of water or harm fisher livelihoods.

The inspection team observed that the Ennore backwaters resemble an environmental crime scene, and the TNPCB is clearly missing in action. Pointing out that the backwaters are critical for Chennai’s flood and water security, and for the livelihoods of thousands of fisherfolk, the team observed that the TNPCB is incapable of regulating powerful government companies like TANGEDCO. The Government of Tamil Nadu should step in to ensure that state public sector units treat waterbodies with respect and operate within the framework of law.

For more information, contact:
Nityanand Jayaraman: 9444082401. K. Saravanan: 9176331717 (Save Ennore Creek Campaign), R. L Srinivasan: 9962733450 (Fisher, Ennore)

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Permit to Pollute – Report Investigates the Status of Implementation of Emission Norms for Thermal Power Plants; Finds a Regulatory Blackhole.

Chennai, 8 May 2021: A report by Healthy Energy Initiative – India reveals that two Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) in the Ennore thermal cluster in Tamilnadu was found violating the MOEFCC prescribed norms upto 53% of the total operational time in two years, between 2019-2020. In March 2021, just as the second wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic was surging in India, the MOEFCC issued a notification extending the deadline to meet the 2015 emission norms for thermal power plants until 2024. Zero action to meet the new norms has led to industries violating with impunity over the last 6 years – affecting the environment and the health of the people around the power plants reveals the new report.

Fossil fuel-related emissions is said to have contributed upto 22% of COVID-19 mortality in South Asia. Several other studies have concluded that air pollution is an important cofactor increasing the risk of mortality from COVID-19. Chennai is one of the COVID-19 hotspots in south India, with more than 3,00,000 COVID Cases recorded till May 2021. Ennore thermal cluster has thermal power plants with a total installed capacity of 3,300 MW, fly ash ponds and coal handling yards and two coal handling ports located in the vicinity of Chennai and they contribute significantly to the poor air quality in the region. In addition to the existing TPPs, new units adding an additional 2,780MW are under various stages of construction.

Perusal of data recorded by the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board reveals that despite the technology in place, the instances of “no data availability” indicated a laid back approach in discharging duty and a lack of political will to monitor, contrary to the spirit of the law. “Non-Availability of data is not only a statutory violation, it is also a regulatory roadblock in holding polluting industries accountable. Gross number of violations in the periods that had records for stack emissions show that the TPPs were offenders who repeatedly violated prescribed norms, with no consequence from regulatory authority. This violates the spirit of the law and results in unchecked air pollution from fossil fuel emissions that greatly impacts the environment, has big climate consequences and degrades public health” said Pooja Kumar, Researcher with Healthy Energy Initiative – India.

“Prolonged exposure to fossil fuel emissions and particulate matter is known to cause cardiovascular diseases, cardiac arrest, lung cancer, premature death in people with heart or lung disease, decreases lung function and increases respiratory symptoms among people. TPPs are a major contributor to air pollution and thereby accelerates climate change. The outbreak of COVID is just the tip of an iceberg. If we fail to address the underlying issues of air pollution and climate change, we will be slammed with many such infectious disease outbreaks in future. Regulatory authorities should immediately implement stringent norms to control the pollution from TPPs” said Dr. Vishvaja Sambath, author of the report.

For More Information, Contact – 9629505983 or 9791122180

Protect Pulicat; Not Industry: Pulicat Fishers, Wildlifers Protest Forest Dept’s Proposal to Slash Pulicat Sanctuary Protection

Chennai. 16 March, 2021: Pulicat fishers and 38 wildlife scientists and environmentalists have sharply criticised Tamil Nadu Forest Department’s reported move to slash the protective buffer around Pulicat Wildlife Sanctuary from 10 km to 500 metres. The letters by a 15-fisher village committee from Pulicat and concerned citizens to the Union Government’s Expert Committee on Eco Sensitive Zones condemns the move which they say is designed solely to benefit polluting industries proposed to be set up in the Ennore Pulicat wetlands.

The letters were in response to a media article announcing the Forest Department’s intent. In March 2019, the Forest Department approached the Expert Committee of the Union environment ministry seeking a notification to reduce Pulicat Sanctuary’s protective ESZ from 10 km to 0 km. The proposal was rejected. The Forest Department’s application justifies the reduction arguing that: “Any new area proposed for Eco-sensitive Zone will result in animosity with the local people and that will go against the efforts for conservation.”

Local fishers have rubbished this argument. “We are surprised that the Forest Department has failed to take local people into confidence. The current move to reduce the ESZ to 500 metres is also suspicious, as the only parties that are likely to benefit from such a move are companies that wish to take over lands and waterbodies in the region to set up polluting industries,” the fishers clarified.

Polluting activities such as Ports and Harbours are prohibited within the ESZ. Adani’s controversial port expansion proposal is prohibited as it falls entirely within the current 10 km ESZ.

Wildlife activists and scientists have suggested that the Forest Department’s move may be linked to the fact that the “Government of Tamil Nadu has notified the Ponneri Industrial Township Area within the existing ESZ and covering the Ennore-Pulicat wetlands. The location of this industrial township is contrary to siting guidelines prescribed in CPCB’s Industrial Siting Atlas and principles of wise use and land-use planning.”

ESZs are protective buffers notified around national parks and sanctuaries to provide a graded protection by regulating certain activities and prohibiting others in the areas immediately surrounding the protected areas. The ESZ Guidelines urge the state government to “convey a strong message to the public that ESZ are not meant to hamper their day-to-day activities.”

Fishers and wildlife scientists point out that the proposal is unscientific and fails to appreciate the hydrological and biological connections between Pulicat sanctuary and the surrounding lands and waterbodies. An English translation of the fishers’ letter to the Union environment ministry says: “As fisherfolk, we know and understand the flow and movement of water and know that it is impossible to arbitrarily draw a line on water as a boundary. Water respects no authority. The demarcation of a zone to protect waters has to be informed by the logic of water, not by other considerations.”

The letters enjoin the Expert Committee to retain the 10 km Eco Sensitive Zone considering that Pulicat Lagoon is a wetland of national importance. The ESZ may be extended further pending scientific studies that is informed by the behaviour of water, fish and other life-forms, and the needs and aspirations of local communities that are dependent on these waters.

For more information, contact: Paranthaman: 7402492965 (15-village coalition of Light House Kuppam Panchayat Fishers). Nityanand Jayaraman: 9444082401 (Save Ennore Creek Campaign). Yuvan M.: 8838502767 (Chennai Climate Action Group). G. Sundarrajan: 9841031730 (Poovulagin Nanbargal)