An Open Letter to Declare Ennore Creek as a Climate Sanctuary Save Chennai; Save Ennore Creek

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Over the last 18 months, Chennai has witnessed its worst flooding, a violent cyclone, a scorching summer, a drought, and a calamitous fire. All events are linked by some common threads — our collective disregard for safety; our inability to appreciate the long-term consequences of bad planning; political expediency; and our misplaced priorities that make us undervalue open unbuilt spaces. The mistakes of our past are catching up with us. But we don’t need to continue making those mistakes.

The Ennore Creek spreads over about 8000 acres. Of this, 1090 acres of wetland area has been lost to encroachments. Another 300 acres of Creek has been damaged by flyash from North Chennai Thermal Power Station’s leaky flyash pipelines. The existing encroachments have drastically altered contours by raising the level of the reclaimed land by up to 15 metres above sea level.

Kamarajar Port wants to convert an additional 1000 acres of wetland into real estate. As you read this, the Port is dumping dredged sand into newly constructed bunds to create a coal yard on 280 acres of the Creek. TANGEDCO is dumping sand and debris to block the Creek and the Kosasthalaiyar to build a coal conveyor for the ETPS power plants. TANGEDCO already has a railway line to transport coal from the port to the power plant. Why the cash-strapped TANGEDCO is constructing an expensive conveyor belt with money it does not have is anybody’s guess.

That is the bad news. But there is good news. Only 15 percent of the Creek has been encroached upon. Saving the remaining 7000 acres is a definite possibility. Arresting all further diversion of the Ennore wetlands, and reversing the encroachments wherever possible will vastly improve the region’s resilience to extreme weather events such as storms/cyclones, heavy rainfall and water scarcity. Such an action will be in line with the law and our obligations to future generations.

This is a mission that we all can – as individuals, communities and governments – engage ourselves in with a sense of shared purpose.

                                         Ennore Creek without Encroachments 1996                

1996 APPROVED F MAP

  Ennore Creek Encroached 2017

1996 F MAP

 

The Creek

The Ennore Creek is bound on the north by the Pulicat Lake and to the south by the Manali marshlands. The worst encroached portion is also the most critical in terms of maintaining the hydrology of the region.

The Creek drains the Arani River, a portion of Lake Pulicat, the Kosasthalaiyar and the surplus course of the Puzhal Lake through the estuary at Mugatwarakuppam.

The Kosasthalaiyar has a catchment of 3757 square kilometres – more than double the combined catchment area of the Adyar and Cooum rivers. The Arani River drains about 1535 square kilometres. With a peak discharge of 125,000 cusecs, Kosasthalaiyar alone can drain more water into the Bay of Bengal than Adyar and Cooum put together.

Of the four estuaries draining Chennai – namely, Kovalam, Adyar, Cooum and Ennore – it is Ennore Creek that evacuates the largest volume of water. Four assembly constituencies – Ponneri, Madhavaram, R.K. Nagar and Thiruvotriyur – stand to be affected by floods if the Creek is compromised. If an Adyar flood brought us to our knees, a Kosasthalaiyar flood can cripple the city.

Ennore Creek can protect us against floods, storms and cyclones and seawater’s intrusion into groundwater.  That is why it deserves to be declared and protected as a Climate Sanctuary. There is much empty talk about climate resilient cities. In Ennore, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the city of Chennai have an opportunity to show the world how cities can actually be made climate resilient.

The Law

The Ennore Creek is a protected wetland under the Wetland Rules, 2010. Reclamation or setting up of new industries or expansion of existing industries is prohibited within protected wetlands.

The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notifications of 1991 and 2011 too apply to the Creek, which is a tidal waterbody. The Government of India-approved Coastal Zone Management Plan, based on which all projects for CRZ clearance should be appraised, declares the entire Creek as CRZ 1 (ecologically sensitive) – a No Development Zone. Indeed, when the CZMP was approved in 1996, the Creek was free of encroachments. (See Annexure 4 – Google Earth 1996)

But, the CZMP was given a quiet burial, and projects allowed to encroach the Creek. Each encroachment is built by dumping earth or construction debris on water to create land that is anywhere between 15 and 45 feet (5 to 15 metres) above the originally prevailing contour levels. While these encroachments eat into the spread of the Creek, flyash spills from

TANGEDCO’s North Chennai Thermal Power Station have silted up deep water areas of the creek and reduced the depth of the creek from 14 feet below sea level to 2 to 4 feet. Despite orders from Madras High Court and National Green Tribunal, TANGEDCO continues to dump toxic flyash into the creek.

The Impacts

The encroachments have reduced the depth and the spread of the Ennore Creek. Once a famed fishing ground with a rich diversity of commercially valuable fish, prawns and crab, the Ennore Creek is gasping for life. Fishing economy has been badly hit, and once self-sufficient fisherfolk families in Mugatwarakuppam, Sivanpadai Kuppam and Kattukuppam have been reduced to poverty.

Flooding:

In December 2015, areas like Kuruvimedu, Athipattu, Athipattu Pudunagar, Ernavur, Manali New Town, Kodungaiyur, Vyasarpadi, Tondiarpet, Korukkupet —  located in the assembly constituencies of Madhavaram, Ponneri, R.K. Nagar and Thiruvottiyur — were badly affected by floodwaters because of the encroachments in Ennore Creek.

Storm Surges:

In December 2016, Cyclone Vardah made landfall in the Ennore region. The resultant storm surge of more than 1 metre above the astronomic tide inundated low-lying areas in the region. Normally, the Creek is the first shock absorber to deter the storm surge. But with its water carrying capacity vastly reduced, the Creek’s ability to absorb storm shocks has also declined. As the encroachment continues, storm surges will send seawater deep into the hinterland through the rivers, streams and channels and inundate areas that have never before experienced flooding due to tidal surges.

Salinity or Seawater Intrusion:

The AK-basin, or the area between Araniyar and Kosasthalaiyar, is a groundwater-rich area. Metrowater has six well-fields – Minjur, Panjeti, Thamaraipakkam, Poondi, Kannagiper and Floodplains — that yield upto 100 million litres per day of water for Chennai during water-scarce times such as now. The AK-basin is witnessing aggressive salinity intrusion. This will worsen as sea levels rise due to climate change.

Because the Creek stretches about 16 km in a north-south direction, tidal and storm surges are spread parallel to the coast rather than deep inland through rivers, streams and channels. The Ennore Creek’s western edges – which are the areas that have been and are being encroached – are salt marshes and abandoned salt pans. Compromising the creek will aggravate salinity intrusion and endanger Chennai’s water sources. Instead, if the western edges of the Creek are used to harvest rainwater, we can strengthen our defences against seawater intrusion.

Conclusion:

If cared for well, the Ennore Creek can become India’s first “climate sanctuary” — a human biosphere project or conservation reserve where multiple livelihood, ecological and climate adaptation objectives are accommodated.

Restoring the river to its original depth, recovering what can be recovered of its spread, and preventing further encroachment can yield significant dividends. This is doable and should be done.

The State administration is already aware of the importance of the Creek; many within the administration are keen to protect the Creek. Their hand needs to be strengthened. Citizens need to speak up to say that we cannot afford to lose more of our wetlands, not after all that has happened to us in the last 18 months.

Write to the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu (Email: cs@tn.gov.in)  urging her to do the following:

a) Declare Ennore Creek as a “Climate Sanctuary” and a No Construction Zone.

b) Prohibit any further encroachment; identify and remove existing encroachments.

d) Develop and execute a detailed ecological restoration plan for the Creek.

e) Restore Creek to its original depth in consultation with fisherfolk and at the expense of the polluters..

f) Protect sand dunes and natural features of the CRZ 1 areas on the Kattupally barrier island, and halt all commercial groundwater extraction ongoing in Kattupally Barrier Island.

Endorsed by:

Chandra Mohan – Arrapor Iyakkam

Sundarrajan G – Poovulagin Nanabargal

Arun Krishnamoorthy – Environmentalist Foundation of India

George – Ilanthamizhagam

Saravanan K / Pooja Kumar – The Coastal Resource Centre

Nityanand Jayaraman –  Save Ennore Creek Campaign

 

Breathing is Injurious to Health

Ennore is a densely populated, working class area of North Chennai – Chennai’s sacrificial lamb. This region is targeted with a disproportionate concentration of polluting industries – a garbage dump, coal-fired thermal power plants, chemical and petrochemical industries, ports, coal yards and fly-ash dykes. Ennore is both a site of vicious environmental discrimination, and the epicentre of a community struggle to end the discrimination, revive the Creek and restore fisher livelihoods.

QuoteCard_Killivallavan

#UnmaskMyCity #ToxicTales #SaveEnnoreCreek

Dr. S. Killivalavan has been practicing in Kattukuppam since 1984. His is one of the few private medical clinics in the area and is always abuzz with patients. Fertiliser companies, coal-fired thermal power plants, a phosporic acid plant and heavy vehicle traffic to and from the two ports further north make this area an air pollution hotspot.

The doctor reports a stark increase in respiratory diseases. “Seventy percent of the cases I see are respiratory diseases. One could claim that the humidity in the area, because it’s so close to the sea, is causing respiratory disease and fungal infection – which also I see a lot – but I can certainly say that the high rate of respiratory disease is because of the air pollution,” he says. “Lots of people have left the area unable to manage medical expenses. How can one explain this?”

Sign Our Petition here : http://unmaskmycity.org/project/chennai/

Tamil_Final

#UnmaskMyCity #ToxicTales #SaveEnnoreCreek

டாக்டர் எஸ். கிள்ளிவளவன் 1984 ம் ஆண்டிலிருந்து காட்டுக்குப்பம் பகுதியில் பயிற்சி செய்து வருகிறார். இவ்வூரில் தனியார் மருத்துவ மருந்தகங்கள் ஒரு சிலவே உள்ளன. டாக்டர் கிள்ளிவளவனவின் கிளினிக் அவைகளில் ஒன்றாகும். எப்பொழுதும் நோயாளிகளின் கூட்டம் அலைமோதும். இங்குள்ள உர நிறுவனங்கள், நிலக்கரி எரிக்கும் அனல் மின் நிலையங்கள், ஒரு ஃபாஸ்ஃபோரிக் அமில ஆலை மற்றும் கனரக வாகனங்களின் புகை இப்பகுதியை காற்று மாசுபாட்டை பொறுத்தவரை ஒரு ஹாட்ஸ்பாட்டாக (மாசு அளவுகள் மிக அதிகமாக உள்ள இடம்) மாற்றியுள்ளன.

இங்கு சுவாசம் சம்பந்தப்பட்ட நோய்கள் அதிகரித்துள்ளன என டாக்டர் கிள்ளிவளவன் தெரிவிக்கிறார். “என்னைப் பார்க்க வரும் நோயாளிகளில் 70% பேர் சுவாசம் சம்பந்தப்பட்ட நோய்களால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளனர். இப்பகுதி கடலுக்கு சமீபத்தில் உள்ளதால், இங்குள்ள மிகுதியான ஈரப்பதமும் சுவாச நோய்கள் மற்றும் பூஞ்சை தொற்று நோய்க்கும் – இப்பகுதியில் இதுவும் அதிகமாக பார்க்கிறேன்- ஒரு காரணமாக இருக்கலாம். ஆனால் இங்குள்ள காற்றின் மாசு தான் சுவாசம் சம்பந்தப்பட்ட நோய்களின் அதிகரிப்பிற்கு காரணம் என்று என்னால் கண்டிப்பாக சொல்ல முடியும்”, என்று டாக்டர் சொல்கிறார். “மருத்துவ செலவுகள் பெருகிய காரணத்தினால் நிறைய மக்கள் இப்பகுதியை விட்டே சென்று விட்டார்கள். இதை எவ்வாறு விளக்க முடியும்?”.

எண்ணூர், வட சென்னையில் உழைக்கும் வர்க்கத்தினர் அதிகமாக வாழும், மக்கள் தொகை அடர்த்தி அதிகமுள்ள ஒரு பகுதி – சென்னையின் பலியாடு. நகரத்தின் வேறு பகுதிகளை ஒப்பிட்டு பார்த்தால், இப்பகுதியில் மட்டும் மாசு விளைவிக்கும் பல தொழிற்சாலைகள் அளவுக்கு அதிகமாகவே உள்ளன – ஓரு குப்பை கிடங்கு, அனல் மின் நிலையங்கள், இரசாயன மற்றும் பெட்ரோ கெமிக்கல் தொழிற்சாலைகள், துறைமுகங்கள், நிலக்கரி கிடங்குகள் மற்றும் நிலக்கரி சாம்பல் செயற்கரைகள். சுற்றுச்சூழலை பொறுத்தவரை உள்ள இந்த பாரபட்சத்தை எண்ணூரில் நேரடியாக காணலாம். ஆனால் இந்த ஊர், இந்த பாகுபாட்டின் ஒரு கோடூரமான எடுத்துக்காட்டாக மட்டும் விளங்காமல், இந்த பாரபட்சத்தை முடிவு கட்டவும், க்ரீக்கை புதுப்பிக்கவும், மீனவ வாழ்வாதாரத்தை மீட்பதற்கும் நடக்கும் ஒரு சமூகத்தின் போராட்டத்திற்கு ஒரு மையப்புள்ளியாகவும் விளங்குகிறது.

இங்கே எங்கள் மனுவில் கையெழுத்திடுங்கள் : http://unmaskmycity.org/project/chennai/ 

In pictures: How a power plant devastated the pristine beauty of a creek near Chennai

Ennore Creek mirrors scenes from the dystopian ‘Mad Max’ – a once-thriving region laid waste.

Today, if you visit Ennore Creek, there is none of that ecological harmony – instead, what you find is devastation. Over the years, the creek and Buckingham Canal had a number of interventions, the largest of which came in 1994, when the North Chennai Thermal Power Station at Ennore was commissioned.

What resulted in development for one part of Chennai led to the decline of communities closest to the site of progress. Several villages along the creek were relocated to its other side to accommodate the plant. At that time, one male member of each displaced family was guaranteed a job in the power station – but the employment lasted a generation, and the waste from the plant disfigured the creek.

Credit: TejInder Singh
Credit: TejInder Singh

With time, as more industries came up in the region, the creek’s natural carrying capacity shrank, raising the risk of floods and cyclones. The discharge from the plant also affected the communities’ health, causing skin allergies, respiratory illnesses and increased chances of cancer and tuberculosis.

Another disaster was the loss of fish because of contamination of the water. “Our wives have to buy fish from other villages and sell that in the market,” said a fisherman. “If people knew which village this fish came from, they will offer a very low price or even refuse to buy it. The water in this part of the creek contaminates the sea life. We can’t use it for our own consumption or rely on it for our livelihood.”

So, while the plant increased opportunities in the cities by providing them electricity, it stripped future generations of the fishing communities of assured livelihoods.

Credit: TejInder Singh
Credit: TejInder Singh

For kilometres around the power plant today, you can see smokestacks, something the plant is synonymous with. Along the creek, what appears to be a grey, sandy beach is really the even spread of fly ash, which has covered the mangrove at the end of the Buckingham Canal.

Despite the intervention of the National Green Tribunal, and protests by the fishing communities and civil society groups, the fly ash beach is expanding further into the mangrove, largely due to the leaks in the plant’s pipeline that pours out like a fountain stream. Continue reading

‘Give us back our river’

24-mp-ennore-crg7r1634d1-3

Parshathy J Nath visits the Ennore creek, a waterbody in distress, and listens to the stories of fishermen as they relive the good old day. One part of the Ennore creek, covered with a layer of black mass, lies still like a corpse. Another channel of dark water, the Buckingham Canal, which carries petroleum effluents from Manali, runs a few kilometres from it. I am at Kattukuppam, a fishing hamlet in Ennore, North Chennai, with city-based environment activist Nityanand Jayaraman.

The creek, which drains the Araniyar and Kosasthalaiyar rivers, once ran unperturbed, carrying crystal-clear water. The Buckingham canal, a salt-water navigation system built in the 19th Century, was a treasure trove of fish. This is all just a memory now.

I look around to see the origin of this injustice — fly ash from a power plant in Vallur and a thermal power station have destroyed the river, its fish, and the livelihood and childhood memories of the fishermen.

Like everyone else in the city, I learned of the state of Ennore and its associated wetlands, thanks to the viral ‘Chennai Poromboke Paadal’ video featuring T.M. Krishna.

“Ennore is now a river in distress, begging to be saved. For years, nobody has paid any attention to it,” says Jayaraman, who has been tirelessly working with his eco-warriors for the last four years to save the area from encroachment by the Kamarajar Port that opened in 2001. He takes me around Mugatwarakuppam, Kattukuppam and Sivanpadai, the three fishing villages dependant on the river.

The smell of fish welcomes me into this village. Women squat on the ground with the early-morning catch, primarily prawns. There was a time when fishermen used to boast about Ennore fish and crab. Now, they hesitate to call guests over for a meal, because most of the fish are poisoned by the effluents. Ennore used to be a weekend getaway with sprawling vegetation during the Raj. “The first signs of pollution began in the 1980s, when industries in Manali released effluents into the Canal. Around the same time, waste from the Northern areas was sent down the Canal towards Ennore, along with downstream products from the sister associates of the Manali petrochemical industry.”

Continue reading

Chennai Poromboke Paadal ft. TM Krishna

Karnatik Music Video Spotlights Ennore as Environmental Crime Scene

Noted writer Perumal Murugan today released an unusual music video titled “Chennai Poromboke Paadal” featuring T.M. Krishna that highlights the Ennore Creek as an environmental crime scene. Shot in and around the Ennore creek, the campaign film. Conceived by city-based environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman focuses on the encroachments by Kamarajar Port and the rampant flyash pollution by TANGEDCO. The video, which was directed by Rathindran Prasad of Kodaikanal Won’t fame, is unique in many ways. The song, written by up-and-coming singer, songwriter Kaber Vasuki, was originally sung as a Tamil rock song and later rendered to Karnatik by R.K. Shriramkumar. […]

To view the full Press Release in English : Click Here

இந்த ஊடக அறிவிப்பை தமிழில் பார்க்க: இங்கே அழுத்தவும்.

For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman – 9444082401

A Justice Rocks Initiative.

No. 92, 3rd Cross, Thiruvalluvar Nagar, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090

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