CHENNAI: The Ennore Creek, the biggest one on the outskirts of Chennai, has been encroached upon by various state and central public sector undertakings. This was brought to light by the Coastal Resource Centre, which managed to secure the government of India approval Coastal Regulation Zone map for the region.
s of Chennai, has been encroached upon by various state and central public sector undertakings. This was brought to light by the Coastal Resource Centre, which managed to secure the government of India approval Coastal Regulation Zone map for the region.
The approved map identifies 8,000 acres as the creek’s water spread area, where no development is permitted. Around 1,090 acres of land from the creek had already been encroached upon by thermal power plants, a port and oil companies. Any wetland larger than 1,200 acres will automatically get protected under the Wetland Rules 2010.
Speaking to reporters here about the role of the creek, former Madras high courtjudge D Hariparanthaman said the excess water from the Kosasthalayar, the Araniar and the Puzhal lake get drained into the sea through the creek. When the water spread area of the creek is encroached, it results in flooding in other areas.
“When poor people encroach upon water bodies, the judiciary order the authorities to clear the people to protect the water body,” he said.
No new projects should be allowed in the creek area. The creek also does the job of protecting the ground water. If the creek was disturbed, the saline water will enter and the ground water table would become saline, he cautioned.
Former member of the National Green Tribunal R Nagendran said for taking up any development activity in a creek area, the companies have to obtain both coastal zone and environment clearances. In the case of Ennore Creek, no such clearance was obtained from the government departments. “When the original characters of the creek is changed, they become disaster zones,” he said.
A creek has three major role to play. During the monsoons the excess water from the water bodies get drained through the creek. Secondly, they protect the ground water from becoming saline. Thirdly they help in maintaining the hydrological and ecological integrity. By protecting the creek, the biggest beneficiary would the fishermen living in and around that area, he said.
Activist Nityanand Jayaram said the encroachments have increased flood risks due to heavy rain. It also had aggravated the problem of seawater intrusion into the city’s ground water reserves in the Araniyar and the Kosasthalaiyar basin.
Former judge Hariparanthaman, musician T M Krishna, Prof. Vasanthi Devi, M G Devasahayam and a few other eminent personalities have written letters to both chief secretary and secretary environment, forests and climate change, urging them to declare the Ennore Creek a climate sanctuary.
This article appeared in The Times Of India on 17 June, 2017. This article can be accessed here.