CHENNAI: The new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) map of Tiruvallur district has marked the 6,400-acre Ennore Creek as “Petrochemical Industrial Park”. Activists fear this is a backdoor attempt to industrialise the creek, an ecologically sensitive area where the Kosasthalaiyar River meets the sea.
The new map was accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Despite it being the most important document that to would regulate the development along the coastal area, there was no mention of when the map was prepared and by whom.
The new map is in sharp contrast to the 1996 map, which shows the 6,469 acres of Ennore Creek to be a tidal water body and protected as No Development Zone under CRZ-1.
Sharing the documents at the press meet on Friday, members of Coastal Action Network (CAN), Coastal Resource Centre, Save Ennore Creek Campaign and All Ennore Fishing Villages (AEFV) coalition demanded an independent probe into the working of the State Coastal Zone Management Authority and the Department of Environment.
Jesu Rathinam of CAN said she got the copy of the 1996 map in 2009 after struggling for three years. “Also, the map obtained by us covers a stretch of 16 km, while the latest map covers only 13 km and makes it seem as if there is no Creek in the map area,” she said.
R L Srinivasan, a fisherman leader from the coalition of AEFV said the city could not handle the tiny Adyar when it flooded. “If we lose the creek and the mighty Kosasthalaiyar floods during the next rains, nothing can save this city. The Kosasthalaiyar River can discharge 1,25,000 cusecs, which is far more than the combined discharge of the Adyar and the Cooum.”
The Petrochemical Industrial Park, which is how the entire creek is now marked in the new CRZ map, was proposed in 1997. But the project was never pursued. The Union Environment Ministry had then allowed the Tamil Nadu government to re-draw the backwater limits based on a survey by the Chief Hydrographer of the Union government. The ministry, however, denied the State government’s request to remove salt pans from the purview of CRZ and insisted that salt pans influenced by tidal action would be protected under the CRZ Notification. The latest CRZ map has excluded all the salt pans and salt marshes in the ecologically sensitive area.
RTI activist K Saravanan says the 1996 map — declaring the entire Creek as CRZ-1 is the correct one as it is consistent with law and reality. “The Naval Hydrographer a scientific body could not have ignored the existence of such a large tidal waterbody,” he said.
Two separate complaints have been filed with the Tamil Nadu Information Commission seeking a probe into the matter. The organisations have also approached the State Disaster Management Authority and the Chief Secretary to intervene and avert a potential disaster.