Contrary to the claims of the Union Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee, a joint survey by the Bombay Natural History Society and Madras Naturalists Society has found that the Odiyur Lagoon, adjoining the proposed Cheyyur power plant, is habitat for a vast number of resident and migratory waterbirds.
The 4,000 MW coal power plant was proposed near Cheyyur town in Kancheepuram district by the Coastal Tamil Nadu Power Limited and the project was temporarily halted after the local villagers filed petitions against the proposed plant with the National Green Tribunal and the Madras High Court.
In what could be yet another hurdle for the project, the recent study titled ‘Evaluation of the Waterbirds of Odiyur Lagoon - A Wetland Near The Proposed Cheyyur Power Plant,’ by the two NGOs has found that the lagoon is a biodiversity rich area and the proposed power plant would lead to air pollution, ultimately leading to loss of habitat for the birds. “At least 77 waterbird species were spotted in the lagoon, including resident and seasonal migrant and winter migrant (species that breed in the Palearctic/Himalayan region and winter in the Indian region),” said Ravi Chellam, vice-president, Bombay Natural History Society.
The report criticised the claim made by the Union Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee that migratory birds are found to be negligible in the lagoon. The committee had recommended the construction of the power plant.
“The power plant would directly and indirectly harm the estuarine ecosystem and its rich waterbird population. The threat would be through air pollution in the form of acidic emission and mercury as vapour and contaminated run-off from the ash pond and power plant site into the lagoon during the floods,” the report said.