Nityanand Jayaraman Jayaraman
I am a Chennai-based writer and social activist. I am also a part of the voluntary anti-corporate collective called the Vettiver Koottamaippu.
Pointing to the illegal clearing of more than 50 acres of dense forests that served as a greenbelt for the North Chennai Thermal Power Station’s Stage I and II plants, Ennore fisherfolk and city-based environmentalists have blamed Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation(TANGEDCO) for worsening the water crisis and the heat wave-like conditions in Ennore. An additional 140 acres of forests will have to be cleared for the project. Sources in Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board have confirmed that TANGEDCO has not obtained the mandatory Consent to Establish under the Air and Water Acts for the ongoing work.
TANGEDCO has also dumped debris and tree stumps from the civil works into the Ennore Creek in front of its main gate. Ennore fisherfolk who have been actively pushing the Government to recognise the importance of restoring and protecting the Ennore Creek are disappointed at the Government’s lackadaisical response.
“The Creek is not just a source of livelihood for us. It is an important component of Chennai’s infrastructure for flood protection and water security. The government should declare the Creek and its associated wetlands as a protected water sanctuary,” said D. Selvaraj, a fisher elder from Kattukuppam.
The trees are the only barrier between the power plant’s coal stacking yard and the densely populated and heavily polluted Ennore region. Ennore villagers have asked the government to ensure that the lost trees should be replaced, and no more trees should be felled from the Greenbelt.
NCTPS’ coal-fired thermal power plant is located at the southern end of Kattupalli – a barrier island characterised by vegetated and stable sand dunes. The tree-covered dunes store rainwater which acts as a protective barrier against salinity intrusion into the inland aquifers. The aquifers of the Araniyar Kosasthalaiyar Basin are an important source of water for Chennai city, as Metrowater pumps more than 100 MLD of groundwater from its water works in Panjeti, Thamaraipakkam and other villages.
By denuding the tree cover, flattening the dunes and constructing paved concrete structures, TANGEDCO is not only heating up the microclimate but also exposing the city’s groundwater sources to the risk of salinity intrusion.
TANGEDCO began felling the trees in August 2016. TNPCB has failed to act on repeated complaints pointing to the illegal felling and the lack of Consent to Establish. Information obtained under Right to Information Act confirms that the work has begun without the statutory license from TNPCB.
A petition challenging the Environmental Clearance given to the project is currently pending in the National Green Tribunal.
For more information, Contact: R.L. Srinivasan, Kattukuppam – 9884280891; Pooja Kumar- 9791122180
Read more: storyofennore
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