Ennore Creek falls off map, activists cry foul

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Contradictory claims:Two RTI queries have yielded different responses on the existence of the Ennore Creek.R_Ragu | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Say it would pave the way for takeover by realtors

Does the Ennore Creek exist or not? As per two RTI replies given by the Department of Environment, it exists and it doesn’t exist.

According to Jesu Rathinam of the Coastal Action Network, in the first RTI reply, a map provided by the Department of Environment, declaring it as approved by the Government of India, showed 6,469 acres of the Creek to be a tidal waterbody protected as a No Development Zone under CRZ-I regulations.

In response to another RTI this year, another official map shows that the entire Ennore Creek has disappeared.

The Coastal Action Network (CAN), the Coastal Resource Centre, the Save Ennore Creek Campaign and Ennore fisherfolk groups want an independent investigation into the functioning of the State Coastal Zone Management Authority and the Environment and Forests Department.

Environment activist Nityanand Jayaraman said as per the map given that now, more than 6,000 acres of the creek will vanish.

 

“The map obtained by CAN covers a stretch of 16 km and is consistent with the Coastal Zone Management Plan that identifies Sheet 2, Tiruvallur district, showing a coastal stretch of 16 km. But the map given to the 2017 RTI covers only 13 km and makes it look like there is no creek in the map area,” Mr. Jayaraman said at a press conference here on Friday.

According to the environmentalists, the document denying the existence of the Ennore Creek is the false map. They fear that using the falsified map could lead to development of real estate on the creek. “This would turn the city into a watery grave during future rains,” Mr. Jayaraman said.

Complaints lodged

“We believe the 1996 map — declaring the entire Creek as CRZ 1— is the correct one, as it is consistent with the law and reality,” K. Saravanan of the Coastal Resource Centre, said. The response to the RTI filed recently included a letter dating back to 1997, from the Ministry of Enviroment & Forests, responding to requests for certain changes to be made, especially to accommodate the setting up of a petrochemical park in Ennore, he said.

“The letter does not mention any request made or approval granted to alter the boundaries of the CRZ map,” Mr. Jayaraman said.

The groups have filed two separate complaints with the Tamil Nadu Information Commission seeking a probe, and have also approached the State Disaster Management Authority and the Chief Secretary.

This article was originally published in The Hindu on 22/07/2017. It can be accessed here. 

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