Raise the issue of other units affecting their livelihood
Angry residents expressed their opposition to the proposed construction of the 660-MW supercritical thermal power plant in Ennore replacing the old plants, at a public hearing held on Tuesday.
A large number of residents from various villages including Ernavur, Tiruvottiyur and Ennore, located along the coastal areas, participated in the public hearing organised by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).
Tiruvallur Collector E. Sundaravalli chaired the meeting along with officials of the TNPCB and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco).
The participants, mostly fishermen, highlighted the main problem — loss of livelihood due to thermal power stations dumping fly ash in the Ennore creek causing reduction in fish population.
A. Lakshmipathy, a resident of Nettukuppam, said his family has been living in the coastal village for more than three generations and is finding it uninhabitable because of air, water and noise pollution.
Citing the heavy noise pollution caused by the conveyor belt transporting coal from the port and air pollution arising from coal dust, he said residents are forced to remain indoors.
The fish population had drastically reduced as the creek, the breeding ground for the fish population, has been damaged by the dumping of fly ash.
“This has resulted in competition among the fishermen to fight for their daily livelihood,” he said.
M. Saraswathy, a resident of Thazhankuppam, complained that the presence of several water-intensive industries like thermal power plants and cement plants has created a drinking water crisis.
The villagers had never faced any water crisis. Now, they find the water table going down drastically. In such a situation, the setting up of a new thermal plant would result in more hardships, she noted.
EIA report slammed
While the residents complained about it affected their livelihood and environment problems, activists were highly critical of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report prepared for the thermal plant.
Activist Nityanand Jayaraman charged that the EIA report did not comply with coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notifications.
There was a “mismatch” of air pollution data in the report and the data recorded by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). No marine and socio economic studies had been carried out, he said. “The construction of a new plant will increase the pollution load in the already fragile coastal belt,” he said, urging the government to blacklist the agency that prepared the EIA report.
S. Janakarajan, retired professor of Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), wondered how environment clearance could be obtained for such a polluting industry located in CRZ I, while one could not get clearance for even constructing a house.
The Ennore Replacement Thermal Power project will be constructed by the Tangedco at a cost of ₹4,800 crore.
A senior official of the Tangedco said that no land acquisition was required for it and all environment aspects, including air pollution, have been assessed as per stringent norms and assured that the latest technology would be used in the construction of the supercritical power plant.
This article appeared in The Hindu on May 31, 2017. It can be accessed here.