NGT stalls construction of twin fishing harbours in Kaliveli estuary, forms committee to study impact

Construction works may impact Kaliveli bird sanctuary and Olive Ridley nesting, petitioner tells green tribunal
Roads being constructed on the Alamparai beach for the proposed fishing harbour project | Express
Roads being constructed on the Alamparai beach for the proposed fishing harbour project | Express

CHENNAI: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), on Friday, ordered status quo on the ongoing construction of twin fishing harbours inside the Yedayanthittu or Kaliveli estuary. It also constituted a joint-committee to conduct an independent assessment of project's impact on adjacent Kaliveli bird sanctuary and the Olive Ridley turtle nesting in the area.

The bench, comprising of judicial member Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member K Satyagopal, accepted the petition filed by naturalist M Yuvadeeban, who alleged that fishing harbours in the proposed site will cause irreversible damage to the bird sanctuary and several important facts were suppressed by the consultants appointed by State fisheries department to get approvals.

TNIE has filed a series of articles on the issue, highlighting the kind of damage the project would cause, including the displacement of thousands of small and marginal fishers who depend on the Kaliveli backwaters for a living.

NGT-appointed three-member committee, comprising officials from regional office of the Union environment ministry, Tamil Nadu forest department, and National Institute of Ocean Technology, has been mandated to visit the construction site immediately before the onset of summer and submit a report before the next date of hearing scheduled on March 21.

As for the construction, the fisheries department, in the last one week, carried out the work at rapid pace, creating road upto to the estuary barmouth. They planned to extend the road across the barmouth to carry the boulder stones for the construction of groynes for the purpose of creating the navigation channel for big fishing vessels to come into the backwaters.

In the petition, Yuvadeeban said fisheries department's own Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report says that Kaliveli wetland is located 5km upstream the proposed fishing harbour. "Kaliveli Bird Sanctuary's eco-sensitive zone is considered 10km, and proposed harbour sites are at about 5km of the sanctuary. As such, no clearance could have legally been issued for the establishment of the proposed harbours," Yuvadeeban said.

Also, there is a Tamil Nadu government order that recognizes the Alamparai and adjoining Alangankuppam coastal stretches as Olive Ridley turtle nesting sites. As per official records, there are 120 live nests in the area as on date. The G.O. prohibits unsustainable activities in 5 nautical miles area around villages specified as Olive Ridley nesting grounds.

The petitioner also raised the legal validity of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance issued by Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority, which is only a recommending body and has no powers under CRZ Notification, 2011, to issue clearance. The NGT bench has sought clarification from the Union environment ministry in this regard.


Harbours are categorised as Red Category, since harbours cause various kinds of air, water and noise pollution. The guidelines issued by the Union environment minister in 2011 concerning eco-sensitive zones prohibits the establishment of any activity causing pollution, discharge of effluent and solid waste in waterbodies or terrestrial area in an eco-sensitive zone of a protected area.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express