CHENNAI: An expert appraisal committee of the Union Environment Ministry has deferred the decision on granting Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for a proposal to widen and desilt Adyar river from the bar mouth to Thiru Vi Ka Bridge, which is one of the key components of the ambitious Adyar River Restoration Project.
The committee meeting on December 8 raised ecological concerns while seeking a comprehensive scientific study before considering the proposal. Earlier this year, it had turned down the project twice, strongly observing that “unless a multi-season detailed study is commissioned to study the impacts of opening of sand bar on riverine/estuarine ecology and biodiversity and Besant Nagar Turtle Nesting Site, this component shall be put on hold.” The committee observed that it may lead to long-term changes in the ecology of the region and should be studied by an institute like National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai.
The Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust is implementing work on various sub-projects of the restoration project. As part of it, the PWD is entrusted with the implementation of seven sub-projects, including desilting and widening the river for 16.18 km, construction of flood protection walls for 1.556 km, and river mouth opening and its maintenance. The CRZ clearance was granted for all other sub-projects.
CRRT officials said National Centre for Coastal Research located inside NIOT campus was in the final stages of the study. “As the city is experiencing increased extreme rainfall events, it is important to improve the water-holding capacity of the river and enhance the tidal exchange into the estuarine region and to restore the marine habitat,” an official said.
The committee was informed that some maintenance works were initiated to desilt the river mouth to manage the flow of water due to floods, after which it sought a factual report from the regional office of the Union Environment Ministry whether any works were initiated without the CRZ clearance.