Map not modified: environment dept.

Says it did not go to Chief Hydrographer for demarcation of backwater areas on map

The controversy over two maps – one showing the existence of the Ennore Creek and another without the creek – just got murkier with the department of environment saying that the State had not approached the Chief Hydrographer to demarcate the backwater areas.

In reply to an Right To Information petition by the Coastal Resource Centre, the department on environment also said no modification was done on the map even though the Tamil Nadu government in 1997 sought certain modifications to the map approved in 1996.

“As The Ministry of Environment & Forests has not modified in Sheet-2, the question of changes made in the sheet has not arisen,” the department further said, raising doubts as to how Sheet-2 was changed to reflect no creek in the area.

According to Pooja Kumar of the Coastal Resource Centre, the Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority (TNSCZMA) used a fraudulent CRZ map to facilitate a proposal by the Kamarajar Port Ltd to divert 1,000 acres of the Ennore Creek.

An official of the Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority (India) told The Hindu the maps at that time were created by the Department of Town and Country Planning. “They sent it to the government of India and got the approvals. The maps provided in the RTI replies are the same maps. These are also on our website,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

 

But Ms. Kumar said that the contention that the 1997 map had replaced the 1996 map was false. The RTI reply dated July 20, 2017, reveals that “In 1997, the Department of Environment has not approached the Chief Hydrographer to demarcate the backwater areas”.

The reply further said that the TNSCZMA also has not dealt with the setting up of a petro chemical park, in the demarcated areas in Sheet 2, Tiruvallur district. Ms. Kumar also showed a map given to them that had the words “True Copy” on the 1997 map.

‘Withdraw clearance’

Environmental activist Nithyanand Jayaraman and Ms. Kumar want an independent inquiry to be conducted into the “fraudulent map” and the clearance given to Kamarajar Port to construct car parking terminals, warehouse zones and a coal yard in the creek to be withdrawn till the issue is resolved.

“We want them to find out why and how the manipulation of the map happened and the entire creek is gone, and three kilometres of the coastal stretch are missing,” Mr. Jayaraman said.

This article originally appeared in The Hindu on 27/07/2017. It can be accessed here.
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