Remove Ennore creek waste: TNPCB to port

CHENNAI: Concerned at the damage being done to the ecologically sensitive Ennore creek, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has ordered Kamarajar Port Ltd to immediately remove the dredged material illegally dumped in a portion of the water body.

The action was based on an inspection conducted by officials of the TNPCB and the Directorate of Environment on a complaint by K Saravanan of the Coastal Resource Centre against the port’s attempts to convert 280 acres of the creek’s tidal wetland into a coal stacking yard.

Welcoming the move to protect the Ennore Creek, volunteers of the centre and Save Ennore Creek Campaign said the management authority should ensure that no one was allowed to convert the ecologically sensitive area in to real estate. The TNPCB should prosecute offenders under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986, they urged.

The port’s master plan revealed that the coal yard was part of a plan to convert 1,300 acres of the creek, which comes under the Coastal Regulation Zone, into industrial estate. In 2015, port officials began dumping dredged material among the mangroves around the creek in a bid to reclaim the water body . After repeated complaints failed to elicit action, fishermen physically blocked earthmovers from encroaching any further. Till date, the encroached areas have not been restored despite orders from the National Green Tribunal. The dredged material is dumped along the sout hern boundary of a 300-acre coal yard illegally constructed by the port between 2006 and 2008. “With the state and district coastal zone management authorities always looking the other way , KPL’s strategy is simple: violate first, regulate later,” Saravanan said.
A proposal seeking permission to divert an additional 1,300 acres is pending approval with the SCZMA. “The corrective action taken by the authority to protect the creek is unprecedented, and we hope the actions remain consistent in the future,” said Nityanand Jayaraman of Save Ennore Creek campaign.

 The creek is vital to the city. During heavy rain, it evacuates more water than the Cooum, Adyar and Kovalam estuaries combined, but encroachments have eaten away 1,090 acres of the 8,000-acre water body and caused heavy flooding in RK Nagar, Madhavaram, Thiruvottiyur and Ponneri areas, and led to the shut down of the Manali refinery .

“Unless the state government arrests further encroachments and acts urgently to restore the creek, Chennai will end up in a watery grave the next time there is heavy rain,” Jayaraman said.

This article was originally published in the Times of India and can be found here.

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