CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority (TNSCZMA) has used a fraudulent CRZ map to facilitate industrial activity in Ennore creek, allege activists.
“Using this map, the TNSCZMA has diverted around 1,000 acres in the creek to facilitate a proposal by Kamarajar Port Ltd,” said Pooja Kumar from Coastal Resource Centre, referring to RTI responses received from the Department of Environment, Tamil Nadu, and the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, New Delhi on June 22.
On the allegation of using the wrong map, the member secretary, TNSCZMA, H Malleshappa said through the RTI response that he had furnished a map that was ‘revised and approved by Government of India in 1997.’Malleshappa’s response referred to a letter in 1997, in which the Government of India had permitted the TN government to revise the boundaries of Ennore creek, based on a survey by the Naval Hydrographer. He was, however, unavailable for comments despite repeated calls.
A subsequent RTI response from the Department of Environment dated July 20, however, exposed that the Department did not approach the Chief Hydrographer to demarcate the backwater areas. “In 1997, the Department of Environment did not approach the Chief Hydrographer to demarcate the backwater areas,” the response said. Further it revealed that subsequent to the letter dated 30.9.1997, no modification has been done.
Environmentalist Nityanand Jayarman from Save Ennore Creek Campaign said, “The RTI revealed that Malleshappa’s claim that 1997 map had replaced the 1996 map showing the creek as a protected zone was false.”Kamarajar Port Ltd, however, denied using either of the maps. “We use an IRS map given by Anna University in 2011,” said a top representative of the port. This map, however, did not match with the Government of India-approved map from 1996.
Nityanand added, “The illegal approvals given for encroachments within the creek by the SCZMA puts nearly 1 million people at risk for disastrous flooding. The campaign will pursue criminal prosecution of the officials involved in the fraud.”The matter has been brought to the notice of the Environment Secretary, the Chief Secretary and the State Disaster Management Authority by Coastal Resource Centre.
Already 1,090 acres of the 6,500-acre creek have been encroached upon. An additional 300 acres have been degraded by flyash discharged from North Chennai Thermal Power Station. “As we speak, NTECL Vallur is dumping mud on mangroves to expand its flyash pond,” he said.
Not a match
Kamarajar Port Ltd, however, denied using either of the maps. They said, “We use an IRS map given by the Anna University in 2011,” said a top representative of the port. This map, however, did not match with the Government of India-approved map from 1996.
This article was originally published in The New Indian Express on 25/07/2017. It can be accessed here.