PUDUCHERRY: The Puducherry government’s ambitious port project proposal for movement of containers from Chennai Port through Puducherry Port has ruffled environmental activists’ feathers, with a section raising questions over its environmental, social and economic impacts.
AnMOU is slated to be signed between the Puducherry Port and Chennai Port Trust in the presence of Union Minister for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan by August-end, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy had said.
However, activists are miffed over the fact that the project would consume 150 acres in the heart of the town at Uppalam. The activity surrounding the port would spell disaster for the Union Territory, says Probir Banerjee of PondyCAN, a civil society organisation. According to him, the surge in lorry traffic (pegged at three trucks a minute, considering a turnover of one million tonnes of cargo a year) will completely choke the roads, create health scare due to pollution and cripple Pondicherry’s tourism potential.
“Can we allow Chennai Port to mess up the environment and lives of people in Puducherry like it has done in Chennai, especially considering that government is promoting Peaceful Puducherry as a tourism destination,” says Banerjee.
Earlier, the Alliance for Good Governance (AGG), comprising nine civil society organizations, petitioned the government, urging it not to sign any MoU until the diligence studies are undertaken. Asking for the assessment of environmental and social impact of the proposed Puducherry Port, C H Balamohanan of AGG said, the government should take up studies to know the Techno-commercial feasibility.
The government on the other hand maintains that the project is sustainable. Initially, only two to three lakh tonne of cargo movement annually will be targeted, which will later be extended up to one million. This project will not create congestion, said an official. The Cargo will be allowed to move only during night, as there are three schools, a railway track in the area, he said.