CHENNAI: With environmentalists raising a stink over the reclamation of land in and around the Ennore Creek and with allegations of violations of environment laws doing rounds, the Kamarajar Port Trust has stopped work on one of the five sites located along the shores.
The port, however, has made it clear that the stoppage of work was not because of any violation of law, but because it has taken cognisance of the concerns raised by environmentalists.
The site where work has been stopped is situated right opposite the main gate of the North Chennai Thermal Power Station. Called ‘Site A’ in the plan, it has seen largescale dumping of dredged sand. The work on reclaiming the inundated piece of land has been on for over a month, according to both the port and activists.
“We have stopped work on that site from Monday. It is not because there are violations of law, but because we have noted the concerns raised. The site is a little closer to the water body than the rest. We are now re-evaluating the plan for the site,” said M A Bhaskarachar, Chairman and Managing Director of Kamarajar Port Trust.
The evaluation is to make sure that the reclamation does not have any inadvertent consequence on the creek’s ecology. The port already has a `10-crore plan in action to strengthen the banks along the creek.
Fishermen in the neighbourhood told Express that while the land being reclaimed is above the water level on most days, rains inundate it. When inundated, it sees significant spawning activity of prawns. “There is a steady reduction in the number of prawns we catch here. This is because spawning areas are being destroyed. For example, the piece of land they are filling up now (Site A) is a regular spawning zone,” said Meganathan, who is engaged in fishing here. When the allegations were first raised, the port had stated that there was no violation on its part as the land had been bought from the Salt Department and clearances for executing the reclamation and dumping had already been received from the government.
The stand is in direct contradiction to the one taken by activists. “We are in the process of collecting enough evidence to file a First Information Report on the port’s activities. It will be done very soon,” said K Saravanan of Coastal Resource Centre.
He said work has been launched at some of the other four sites.