Kamarajar Port not toeing the line, claim activists

kamarajar

CHENNAI: After a brief stoppage, Kamarajar Port Limited has allegedly resumed the dumping of dredge spoils in the Buckingham canal and inter-tidal area in violation of several standing orders, environmentalists claimed on Sunday.

In the last couple of days, the port has reportedly uprooted several fully-grown coconut and palm trees along the canal for the purpose. The photographs show earth movers in operation levelling the inter-tidal zone area close to the main and west gate.

Earlier, following similar allegations and destruction of mangroves cover violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules, the port was asked to stop its dumping activities by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) as per the direction of Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority (TNSCZMA).

Pooja Kumar of Coastal Resource Centre, a city-based NGO, told Express that the TNSCZMA took notice of this senseless destruction of the fragile ecology of the Ennore Creek and the Buckingham canal and issued notice to the port to stop illegally converting water bodies and wetlands into land. The port has even gave a written undertaking it would not carry out any work in inter-tidal zone andno work will be taken without consent from the authorities.

Despite this, the port is continuing to violate norms and official orders. It is destroying the Buckingham canal, further north, away from the previous sites of dispute in a bid to hide from the public eye,” she alleged.

Interestingly, Buckingham canal is part of National Waterways-4. In 2014, Inland Waterways Authority of India, which is the implementing authority of NW-4, has opened its regional office in the campus of Indian Maritime University for sole purpose of improving the condition of Buckingham canal, but so far nothing has been done. If the Northern part of canal’s situation in Ennore is deteriorating due to the Kamarajar port and power plants, the southern part of the canal has become a sewer carrier with several trucks collecting untreated sewage from big apartment complexes on OMR and ECR located after Perungudi and Sholliganalur right under the nose of the officials, said activist Jawaharlal Shanmugam, who is fighting a case in National Green Tribunal (NGT).

Port refutes allegations, threatens legal action

Reacting to the allegations,  Kamarajar Port general manager P Radhakrishnan, said the charges are baseless and fictitious. The land in which work is going on belongs to the port.

“We are creating a parking facility to decongest the traffic in the area. As claimed by activits, the land is not in inter-tidal zone. “It’s an alienated area and water doesn’t reach the site. We are creating parking space in two places – one near the main gate and another in the land between the west gate and the main gate. We are only developing 21 metres from the existing road towards the canal. Already, Public Works Department (PWD) officials have given their consent after visiting the area” the official said.

There is another project for which Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has given approval. There is a proposal to straighten the Ennore creek, which will help fishermen. “We are awaiting final approval from the PWD,” he added.

MA Bhaskarchar, Chairman cum MD, said the port will initiate legal action against these environmentalists, who are trying to show port in the poor light with baseless claims.

The original article appeared in The New Indian Express on the 13th June 2015 – Read it here

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