Activists examine the map showing Ennore creek at Chennai Press Club on Friday. (Photo: DC)
Chennai: When the environmental activists are crying foul over the exploitation of Ennore creek, a new revelation brought out through the Right to Information reveals shocking facts. While the government approved map obtained through RTI by Jesu Rathinam of Coastal Action Network (CAN) in 1996 shows 6,469 acres of the Ennore creek as a No-Development Zone under CRZ-1, another reply from the department of environment denies the existence of the Ennore creek.
Pooja Kumar of Coastal Resource Centre (CRC), said, “The map that we (CRC) acquired through RTI in 2017 covers only 13 km and the entire Ennore creek had disappeared. But the map obtained by Coastal Action Network covers a stretch of 16 km and is consistent with the Coastal Zone Management Plan that identifies Sheet 2, Tiruvallur district.” Condemning the offence, Jesu Rathinam of CAN said, “Since both maps have been obtained under the RTI, the department of environment has falsified the information in one of the two cases. This is a punishable offence.”
The fishermen from Ennore and the environmentalists from CAN, CRC and Save Ennore Campaign on Friday demanded an independent probe into the functioning of the State Coastal Zone Management Authority and the department of environment. Environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman said, “There should be one map, but there are two maps which are government-approved. While one is legitimate, the other one is clearly a lie. Two different complaints have been filed before Information Commission and State Disaster Management Authority.”
The irregularities in the functioning of the government would directly affect the biodiversity of the Ennore creek. “If the Ennore creek ceases to exist, the city of Chennai will face severe floods during monsoons,” added Nityanand. The 2017 RTI response included a 1997 letter from the Ministry of Environment & Forests responding to certain changes proposed to be made by the state government to accommodate the setting up of a petrochemical spark in Ennore.
The revelation is beyond the question of fishermen’s livelihood, as it now questions the safety of the city monsoons, nothing can save the city, said R. L. Srinivasan, a fisher leader from the Coalition of All Ennore Fishing Villages.
This article was originally published in Deccan Chronicle. It can be accessed here.