Tiger scare unearths rich ecosystem in Ennore

Activists fear power plant extension could damage flora and fauna

20novchprs_tigeg2kssuvq-3On information from people who claimed to have spotted a tiger in Ennore around two months ago, officials from the Forest Department with volunteers have unearthed a ecosystem that supports wildlife in the area, which, they say, is at a risk from the ongoing third phase of construction of the North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS).

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Eco-activists find wildlife in North Chennai power plant, want further construction stopped

Environmental activists are demanding that construction on the third phase of the North Chennai Thermal Power Station in Ennore be halted since there is a wide variety of wildlife within the area of the plant that is at risk from continued construction.

Forest officer Murugesan said that an inspection by activists and officials of the forest department found a variety of wildlife and plant life within the area of the expansion project that should not be endangered by further development of the power station, which is to be commissioned by the financial year 2019-2020.

“About two months ago, many staff members from the power plant complained to us that they saw a tiger inside the plant. We patrolled the area along with forest department officials. There were no tigers inside but we spotted wild cats, deer, wild boar, jackals, 100 different types of birds and many banyan trees,” said animal activist Shravan Krishnan.

Murugesan, also confirmed to The News Minute that the department had undertaken a search for a tiger. “We were informed about a tiger inside the power plant. First, we put up three cameras to check. About two weeks ago, around 52 cameras were installed inside the power plant. Many different kinds of animals were spotted there.”

He added that further construction would displace many animals, and rehabilitating them from the area should be an immediate priority.

He also said that consultations will be taken up with the warden of the Wildlife Department in Guindy, based on which the future course of action will be finalised.

The NCTPS has been consistently opposed by environmental activists because of the deforestation it will result in. Activists also allege that power plants in Ennore disturb the hydrology of the area by encroaching on the river and blocking ingress to the creek. These encroachments downstream caused flooding of upstream areas such as Sadayankuppam, Manali New Town and Burma Colony in 2015, they allege.

The NCTPS has faced not only opposition by environmentalists, but also legal hurdles from builders, as the tender process awarding the contract to BHEL was opposed by a construction consortium. It was only in October that the Supreme Court provided relief to TANGEDCO and BHEL over the tender  process.

Original Article appeared in The News Minute, you can read it here

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NCTPS expansion threatens to degrade Ennore green belt

CHENNAI: The under-construction North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) 1×800 mega-watt super-critical plant is threatening to degrade the ‘last surviving’ 76.9 hectares (190 acres) of green belt in Ennore, which is a dynamic ecosystem and a critical floodplain.

Local environmentalists allege that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report was not in consonance with the terms of references awarded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). The power plant is mooted as part of NCTPS Phase-III expansion. Continue reading

Make alternative flood forecast plan: HC to State

The Madras High Court has directed the state to make alternative arrangements for flood forecasting in the short term, until 14 such stations proposed by Central Water Commission is set up.

The Buckingham Canal before (above) and after restoration works were carried out at Kathivakkam

The Buckingham Canal before (above) and after restoration works were carried out at Kathivakkam
Chennai:

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan on perusing the report filed by the Principal Secretary, PWD, also recorded the submission of the petitioner that Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Plan for 2016 has left several issues unaddressed. The petitioner informed the court that the plan is a duplication of the Himachal Pradesh plan with even the same typographical errors. It was contended that what is good for hill area may not be necessarily capable of being implemented in Tamil Nadu.
Also, pointing out that there must be a long term and short term perspective, it was further submitted that the plan relies on warnings to be issued by Flood Forecasting Station of the Central Water Commission. But the fact remains that at present, there are no flood forecasting stations in Tamil Nadu. The bench on recording these aspects, sought the petitioners to give their suggestions within two weeks to the committee of the State Disaster Management Authority, which will examine the suggestion within four weeks and forward it to the National Disaster Management for further inputs.
Buckingham Canal restored at Kathivakkam
Fishermen of the Kathivakkam municipality in Ennore are a happy lot now that the Buckingham Canal stretch was finally dredged and widened.
Srinivasan Rajesh, a fisherman from Kattukuppam, a village close to the canal, said that after decades of demanding for a restoration, the community is happy to see the transition. “This particular stretch of the Buckingham Canal was polluted by fly ash from the nearby thermal power plants as well as municipal solid waste. We are happy that the officials have heeded to our requests as the Tangedco dredged the water-body and removed the two roads encroaching the canal. Despite the efforts taken, there is a need to stop municipal waste and sewage from mixing with the water,” said the fisherman.
The original article appeared on DT Next on 16th November 2016 – Read it here

Dredged sand dumped in Ennore creek, 4 trucks seized

CHENNAI: Four trucks loaded with sea sand transported by a Kamarajar Port sub-contractor were seized by Ponneri Sub-Collector V R Thandapani and sent to the police. The truck drivers were caught for double crimes – unlicensed movement of sand and dumping on a waterbody –  while they were dumping dredged sand in the Ennore creek to create new land for the port.
The truck drivers were caught red-handed by the Sub-Collector along with Ennore fisherfolk and Coastal Resource Centre members, who were jointly inspecting removal of encroachments on the Buckingham canal and creek in preparation for the monsoon.  Continue reading

In fishing villages, flood fears swell

  • Looking back:A view of a flooded area at Kovalam, near Chennai, during the 2015 floods; residents dug a trench to allow the floodwater to drain into the sea from the residential premises at VGP Layout at Palavakkam on the East Coast Road, last December. —File photos

    Looking back:A view of a flooded area at Kovalam, near Chennai, during the 2015 floods; residents dug a trench to allow the floodwater to drain into the sea from the residential premises at VGP Layout at Palavakkam on the East Coast Road, last December. The people are worried as work to extend the seawall to protect their hamlets is still incomplete

When the city virtually drowned under sheets of water last December, residents living along the fishing hamlets, close to the estuaries, were sitting tight, watching the waters sweep aside sandbars and widen the mouths of the rivers.

“The flood shifted the estuary of the Ennore Creek further south of the broken bridge, which is now inside the sea,” said D. Joseph, a resident of Nettukuppam in Ennore in north Chennai.

“The Water Resources Department has only now begun laying a Kuccha road to place boulders and extend the seawall. We don’t think the work will be completed on time, also because dredging has been stopped. We are afraid the village will be completely destroyed and wiped out with the force of the water, if a similar flood occurs this year,” Mr. Joseph added.

The rush of water for 24 straight days deepened and widened the Vaai padi (where river meets sea), as fishers call the estuary.

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Explainer: Why Chennai needs to speak up to save the Ennore creek

One of the major reasons that Chennai flooded as badly as it did in December 2015, is because all of its natural drainage systems – primarily the Ennore Creek – were choked.

The floods which devastated Chennai last year, unearthed the massive morass that is the story of practically every metropolis: encroachment, especially of water bodies, and unplanned building creating an ugly cocktail of disaster when the skies pour.

That was also the story of Chennai.

One of the major reasons that Chennai flooded as badly as it did in December 2015, is because all of its natural drainage systems – primarily the Ennore Creek – were choked, and the incessant rains kept adding to the volume of water that was draining out painfully slowly.

Ennore Creek wasn’t killed overnight. What made its death invisible was the fact that it occurred over three decades, by acts of commission and omission.

Located to the north of Chennai, the Ennore Creek drains two rivers – the Araniyar and Kosasthalaiyar which meet at Ennore Creek before flowing into the Bay of Bengal at Mugathwarakuppam. In many ways, it is more important than the two rivers Adyar and Cooum which were the centre of focus during the floods and after.

Here are five major blows that figuratively broke the backs of the Araniyar and Kosasthalaiyar:

Flyash:

After the North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) was set up, 1990s onwards, hot water has been discharged into the creek. The plant devoured the salt pans surrounding it, to set up a flyash pond. Flyash from the pond leaked into the creek and deposited silt into the river. Ash pipelines laid on platforms further blocked the flow of water. Some of the ash slurry leaked into the river adding even more layers to the debris in the river.


Ash spilling from leaky pipelines have choked the river and the Canal Continue reading

Govt urged to restore Ennore creek to make north Chennai flood-proof

CHENNAI: With monsoon round the corner, noted activists and fishermen have urged the state government to take immediate steps to save the Ennore creekto secure north Chennai in case of floods. Industrial encroachments along the creek has shrunk the waterway hitting the local fishermen and causing floods in the northern pockets of the city last year, they claimed while suggesting six steps that would reduce the flood risk.

Selvarajan, vice-president of Ennore Annaithu Meenavar Gramangalin Kootamaipu, alleged that the public sector thermal power stations and the port in the area have destroyed the waterway by dumping debris and fly ash. “We suffered a lot in the 2015 floods with several areas in our locality and north Chennai inundated. The industrial development in the northern pockets halted the natural flow of river through the waterways,” he said. Noting that floods were caused due to industrial encroachments of wetlands associated with Kosasthalaiyar and Ennore creek, he said salt marsh have disappeared in the area. The southern arm of the Ennore creek drains Kosasthalaiyar river and rain water from various areas in north Chennai including Manali, Washermenpet and Korrukupet. Thanks to the bridges, industrial effluents and fly ash from thermal power plants, the water-carrying capacity of the creek has been reduced.
While noted environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman said the Ennore creek has been constricted by dumping of fly ash, discharge of industrial effluent and reclamation of waterbodies by Kamaraj Port, former HC judge Justice Hariparanthaman said he was shocked to notice the creek reduced to just a feet from its initial width of 15 feet. “To top it, a road was recently laid blocking the water body. The need of the hour is to restore the width of Kosasthalaiyar river and Ennore creek,” Hariparanthaman noted.
Original Article appeared in the Times of India on Sep 21, 2016 – Read the original article here
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