Chennai. 7 October 2021 — Even as efforts to monsoon-proof the city focus solely on Adyar, Cooum and Kovalam basins, Save Ennore Creek campaign appealed to the Chief Minister to visit the neglected Kosasthalai River’s Ennore backwaters where TANTRANSCO had encroached on more than 39 acres of wetlands, including 16.6 acres of areas identified as mangroves and mangrove buffers in the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan. Despite protests by Ennore fishers, TANTRANSCO has failed to remove the concrete debris roads laid blocking water flow in various parts of the backwaters, including across the Kuruvimedu and Buckingham Canals. Calling attention to “Before-After” satellite images showing how TANTRANSCO had buried mangroves and illegally reclaimed the wetlands, the campaign referred to TANTRANSCO’s works as an act of ‘eco-vandalism’ that will endanger 1 million people in North Chennai, Manali, Madhavaram, Ponneri and Gummidipoondi if monsoon rains are heavy. Of a total of 30 transmission tower sites surveyed by the campaign, not even one site was restored to its original wetland state as required by the CRZ Clearance obtained by TANTRANSCO. The CRZ clearance issued by Union environment ministry states that “Any physical infrastructure set up during the construction period shall be removed simultaneously with the completion of laying of each segment of the erection project.”
For an under-construction transmission tower near the NTECL Vallur thermal power plant in Kuruvimedu, a 3 acre patch identified as CRZ 1A (mangroves buffer) and CRZ IB (Intertidal Area) under the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan has been illegally reclaimed. Mangroves were being regenerated at this site by NTECL with help from MS Swaminathan Research Foundation pursuant to a Madras High Court order (W.P.Nos. 30237 and 30135 of 2018). The cases were filed by Ennore fishers against NTECL’s earlier encroachment of mangroves for expanding its flyash pond. TANTRANSCO’s CRZ clearance does not permit erection of towers on CRZ 1A area.
Violation of CRZ 1A is evident at two other sites as well. Transmission towers have been erected obliterating mangroves and mangrove buffers in a protected part of the wetland south of the Athipattu Main Road. Mangroves in this site were recovering following an NGT order directing Kamarajar Port to remove an encroachment and restore the damaged mangroves. On the northern side of the Athipattu main road, construction debris dumped to construct an illegal road through CRZ 1A and CRZ IB (intertidal zone) is evident even now.
Site 3 – Before and After – Buckingham Canal and Paraval Area
Kosasthalai is Chennai’s largest river with twice the flood carrying capacity as Adyar and Cooum combined. Unlike the Adyar and Cooum that do not have backwaters, the Kosasthalai has backwaters stretching from Manali to Pulicat. At least 10,000 fisher families rely on these waters for a livelihood, while close to 10 lakh people live in its catchment.
The Campaign sought the intervention of the State Disaster Management Authority and invites the Chief Minister asking him to urgently visit the Ennore backwaters as part of his monsoon preparedness inspections. The Kosasthalai River, and the population protected by it, deserves the same attention as the elite rivers Adyar and Cooum command, the campaign said.
For More Information, contact – 9176463032, 9444082401
Organised by : Save Ennore Creek Campaign, 92, 3rd Cross Street, Thiruvalluvar Nagar, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090