Amid resistance from environmental activists, opposition parties and citizens, Thiruvallur district administration has postponed a public hearing on the expansion project by Adani Ports at Kattupalli Port near Chennai.
A few days ago, villagers had demanded to change the venue or cancellation of the public hearing.
The public hearing for the 'Proposed Revised Master Plan Development of Kattupalli Port' by Adani Ports and SEZ's subsidiary Marine Infrastructure Development Private Ltd (MIDPL) is scheduled Bhagavaan Mahaveer Auditorium in Shree Chandraprabhu Jain College in Minjur of Tiruvallur district. The auditorium is nearly 20 km away from the village. Several locals, who may be affected by the project, have alleged that keeping the venue far away is a deliberate attempt to discourage people from voicing their opposition.
Adani has sought environmental clearance current application for the ₹4,000 crore port and harbour project, a part of the ₹53,400 crore masterplan.
As per Appendix 1V, Clause 7 (III) of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, the public hearing should be held at the site, or in its proximity.
The Kattupalli port commenced operations in 2012 and was initially owned by L&T (Larsen and Toubro). Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. (APSEZ) acquired it in 2018 with a plan to add 40 million metric ton of new capacity in the next three years.
Environmental activists allege that the proposed master plan includes involves the conversion of wetlands into an industrial area. This they say, will have a drastic impact on food security and drinking water security of Chennai.
This project is set to come up in Kattupalli, Kalanji and Karungali villages, which are a part of a high eroded coastal stretch.
Environmental activist G Sundarrajan told The Logical Indian that the project will impact the environment as it will come upon wetlands and ecologically fragile sand dunes on the Kayyupalli Barrier island near the Pulicat Wildlife Sanctuary.
The proposed expansion plan demands the conversion of 2807 acres (1135.95 ha) of wetlands into an industrial area, which also covers the salt pans, mangroves and coastal stretch areas. "The revised master plan will require the reclamation of the sea of up to 796.15 ha. The total area needed for the revised master plan is about 2,472.85 hectares (ha). This includes the existing area of 133.50 ha and additional government land of 761.8 ha, private land to the tune of 781.4 ha," Sundarrajan said adding that acquiring such lands affects the ecology in turn affecting the lives of people.
Livelihood Of Fishermen At Risk
He also said that the proposed plan will affect the lives of fishers living around the Pulicat lake as this project leads to the destruction of ecology that sustains their livelihood. "The people who would lose their livelihood include marginal farmers, inland fish workers, agricultural labourers and cattle-rearers living by the port."
The fishermen have submitted a memorandum to the Environment Assessment Committee (EAC) visiting the site, conveying their opposition to the project.
He said that heavy vehicles' movement along with diversion of wetlands for industrial purposes like this and degradation of wetlands due to coal and fly ash deposition have added to the reduction of the air quality.
Opposition Parties Protest
K Kanimozhi, Member of Parliament and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Women's wing secretary said the Adani Ports' plan to develop Kattupalli port contains major issues that the government needs to assess, reported the Business Standard.
Another DMK MP, Kalanidhi Veeraswamy, wrote to the district collector asking him to cancel the public hearing. In his letter, he alleged the project is an illegal and prohibited activity.