The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday ordered the Corporation of Chennai to maintain status quo with regard to the construction of a sewage pumping station in Ullagaram after residents approached it alleging that the project was being implemented in a temple tank.
The southern bench comprising judicial member Justice P Jyothimani and expert member Prof R Nagendran ordered an inspection of the said place by a team consisting of the Chief Environmental Engineer of the TNPCB and the Zonal Officer of the Corporation. The team has to submit a report to the tribunal by August 5.
In her petition before the NGT, secretary of the Ullagaram Vaazhum Makkal Podhu Nala Sangam, Famitha, said, “the tank belonging to the Draupadi Amman temple at Ullagaram (now part of Chennai Corporation- Zone XIV) served as the main groundwater recharge for the residential area.” Whenever the tank dried up, wells in the locality also ran out of water. The government had also spent huge amounts for improving the tank over the years.
However, the erstwhile Ulagaram-Puzhithivakkam Municipality had conceived a sewage pumping station at the centre of this tank in 2007. Though the Madras High Court refused to halt the project, the municipality by itself dropped it in the same year.
But in 2011, the civic body decided to revive the project and began works. The matter went to the High Court once again, which ruled in favour of the civic body.
Meanwhile, the petitioner claimed that further inquiries had revealed that the area already consisted of a canal called ‘Veerangal Odai’, which carried the sewage from the area to the Buckingham Canal. “There is no need to instal a pumping station since the Odai is used as a sewage canal,” petitioner argued and added that public money was being wasted without application of mind.
Therefore, the petition wanted a bar on implementation of the project and restoration of the tank.