CHENNAI: While so far only activists have complained about encroachments on the water bodies in Ennore, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has now found that the Kamarajar Port’s new coal stacking yard infringed upon the Ennore creek and has directed the port to remove it.
Acting on a complaint from K Saravanan of the Coastal Resource Centre (CRC), the District Environmental Engineer in Ambattur conducted an inspection, which revealed that the port has been converting the creek’s tidal wetland area in Athipattu into a dumping ground for dredged material. “The ongoing violation includes transport of dredged material through heavy vehicles in Costal Regulation Zones (CRZs) and dumping the mud to form a large bund. Contractors employed by Kamarajar Port Limited were seen dumping material to make bunds on May 17,” said Saravanan.
In 1996, Ennore creek was given the highest protection possible by bringing it under the CRZ 1 (ecologically sensitive) under the CRZ notification as part of the Coastal Zone Management Plan. However, the port is trying to convert the creek into real estate piece, alleged the CRC and Save Ennore Creek Campaign.
Reacting to the directive, the port officials said the debris dumped in the creek will be removed within 15 days. A senior port official, however, argued that the bund was not built on CRZ land. “The bund does not encroach the CRZ line and we will soon fill up the bund,” he said, adding that the structure is being built with the clearance of the National Green Tribunal. Environment activist Nityanand Jayaraman, who has worked extensively to conserve the creek, alleged that the port was relying on a map not approved by the government.
The Ennore creek is a swampy backwater spread across 13 km near Kosathalayar. While it is home to a vast aquatic ecosystem, it also provides livelihood to six fishing hamlets.
This article originally appeared in the The New Indian Express and can be found here.