National Green Tribunal orders halt to dredging at Ennore port in Chennai

Green tribunal asks authorities to stop activity temporarily until panel constituted to investigate ecological damage in the area tables report

Published: 12th September 2017 03:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th September 2017 09:14 AM   |  A+A-

A view of the eco-sensitive Ennore creek, where Kamarajar port officials have allegedly dumped tonnes of dredging material illegally | File photo

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday asked Kamarajar port to stop dredging activities temporarily, until the expert committee, constituted to investigate the ecological damage caused in Ennore, submits its report.

Though the port made a submission before the bench stating that all dredged materials dumped in the salt pans and mangrove cover areas were removed, the bench restrained the port from carrying out the activity.
Meanwhile, the committee submitted an interim report in which it proposes to conduct UAV-based topographic survey and sampling in and around the Ennore creek area covering an area of 22 sq.km. The idea is to capture high-resolution ‘air photos’ to generate an Orthophoto, digital surface model, digital terrain model and elevation contours. The committee said the site was exposed to cyclone and other severe weather and man-related disturbances.

The cost of the survey is estimated to be about `12 lakh. When the counsel for TANGEDCO sought two months’ time to allocate the funds as per their tender policy terms and conditions, the NGT bench rejected it, giving the body only 15 days to arrange funds, since the monsoon is only one month way.
Meanwhile, IIT professor Balaji Narasimhan, who is part of the committee, rued before the tribunal that workers engaged to clear fly ash from the Buckingham canal were not provided with any personnel safety equipment like gloves, masks etc.“When we went for the inspection, within one hour we got covered in fly ash. The air is highly polluted,” he said.

Sources of pollution
There are four thermal power plants in the region, apart from numerous fertilizer and cement units. Ash and hot water used by the thermal plants mixes with waters of the Ennore creek. There are also many petroleum-based industries in the area.

Fully polluted
■ A study has found air quality in Ennore to be far worse than the air quality even in Manali
■ The eco-sensitive Ennore creek receives wastewater from numerous sources including untreated effluents from industrial sources. Tangedco too has been pulled up for draining fly ash into it
■ Local residents say Kamarajar port has illegally dumped dredged material in a portion of the water body
■ Studies have confirmed the presence of heavy metal in the water
■ There are around six fishing villages in the area



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