CHENNAI: Deviating entirely from the Union Environment Ministry-approved alignment for the coal conveyor corridor, TANGEDCO’s Ennore SEZ project is laying its corridor in an unapproved route by dumping illegally transported dredged sea sand and fly ash into waterbodies, including the Kosasthalai river’s tidal channel, claim environmental activists from Save Ennore Creek campaign.
The activists claim TANGEDCO has misled Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji into issuing a statement that all is legal. “A ground truthing exercise done using a handheld GPS by Save Ennore Creek campaign has revealed that the ongoing construction has already led to the loss of more than 15 acres of wetlands, including 1.1 acres of Kosasthalai river. If allowed to proceed, this alignment will claim additional 2.4 acres of river-spread including mangroves,” the campaign said.
After using an alignment that avoids waterbodies to get an approval, TANGEDCO has illegally altered the alignment without informing the Union Environment Ministry, and gone ahead with a completely different alignment that runs mostly on water bodies.
According to local fisherfolk, Konamudukku Kalvai which is the area of the river being encroached by TANGEDCO is one of the most biologically productive segments in the area. The presence of mangroves and deep-water habitats make this a sheltered breeding place for prawns. Fishers report a drastic drop in fish catch over the last three months. “Enough is enough. We are going to pursue this to its logical end. We want these encroachments removed, and we want to be fully compensated for the damage done to our source of livelihood,” said R.L. Srinivasan of Kattukuppam fishing village.
When contacted, the Chief Engineer of Ennore SEZ project has outrightly refuted the claims of the activists saying there was no deviation in the alignment. “The allegations are baseless and unfounded. The construction is going on as per the approved alignment. TANGEDCO is a government body and how can we change the alignment just like that,” asked the official.