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

 

If TANGEDCO’s EIA is true, Ennore Air is Cleanest in City

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29 May, 2017. Chennai: City-based activists said they strongly suspect that the EIA prepared for TANGEDCO’s 660MW coal power expansion project in Ennore uses falsified and potentially fraudulent air quality data to justify the location of the polluting project in a heavily polluted area. Not one of the 216 samples taken by TANGEDCO’s consultant, Ramky Enviro Engineers, registers PM2.5 levels that deviate from a narrow range of 19.3 to 36.8 µg/m3; none exceeds the national annual ambient air quality standard of 40 µg/m3. If the EIA data is to be believed, air in the Ennore Manali industrial cluster is cleaner than in any other part of the city, including IIT, Poes Garden and Boat Club.

PM2.5 refers to highly toxic respirable dust measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter. High PM2.5 levels are indicative of dangerous air pollution. Every 10 µg/m3 increase in PM 2.5, increases death rates by 3 to 26%, chances of childhood asthma by 16%, chances of lung cancer by 36% and of heart attack by 44%. In 2012, WHO declared that air pollution claimed 7 million lives – or one in eight global deaths. Continue reading

PRESS RELEASE : Dirty Industries in Chennai’s Edges Blow their Poisons to City Centre

Chennai, 10 May 2017: Air quality results from Poes Garden and the posh Boat Club indicate that the city cannot escape pollution by merely pushing all dirty industries to the poorer working class areas along the city’s margins, and particularly North Chennai. “Chennai can never dream of clean air as long as it considers Ennore, Manali in the north or Alathur in the south to be industrial sacrifice zones. Our experience from Delhi tells us that the sources of local air pollution may be tens of kilometres away from the city,” said Shweta Narayan of Community Environmental Monitoring.

Coastal Resource Centre took a total of eleven 24-hour samples from Chennai and the edges of the Chennai Metropolitan Area in April 2017. Six of the worst samples are from locations in North Chennai – from NTO Kuppam on the Ennore Highway, Manali, Sivanpadai Kuppam (near Ennore Thermal Plant), Kodungaiyur, Kuruvimedu (near Vallur Thermal plant’s coal ash pond) and Seppakkam (near NCTPS’ coal ash pond). The samples collected at Sivanpadai Kuppam (Ennore), NTO Kuppam (Ennore Highway), Kodungaiyur and Manali had levels of PM2.5 that would be considered by the U.S. EPA as “Very Unhealthy – People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity.”

Levels of PM2.5 in Poes Garden and Boat Club would be considered by the U.S. EPA as “Unhealthy — People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.”

Factsheet Finalpdf.jpgThe elevated levels of iron and calcium in all samples, including from Poes Garden and Boat Club, suggest that coal combustion in industrial or power plant boilers may be a significant contributor to the urban pollution load. “There is a case to be made that emissions from coal ash dumps, thermal plants and industrial boilers, which can be re-suspended, has created regionally elevated levels of iron and calcium particulates in Chennai,” said Dr. Mark Chernaik, staff scientist at US-based NGO ELAW-US, who interpreted the results.

The Ennore region alone has 3330 MW of installed coal power plant capacity, with more than 1500 acres as dedicated coal ash dumps. Another 6430 MW is proposed to be added in the coming years taking total capacity to 10,000 MW.

”The high concentration of polluting industries in the city’s northern and southern edges is affecting all of Chennai,” said Dr. Hisamuddin Papa, a leading pulmonologist from Huma Hospital. “North Chennai, with its dense working class population is particularly vulnerable as poor health exacerbates their poverty. But we cannot help them until existing industries continue to pollute, and more polluting industries are allowed to come up here,” he said.

For more details:  Pooja Kumar: +91 9791122180.

Note: The 24-hour samples were taken using filters fitted to a low volume air sampler and analysed for PM2.5 and heavy metals in Chester LabNet at Oregon, USA.

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/