NGT suspends green nod for tuna harbour, slaps Rs 12L fine on Tamil Nadu
Related infrastructure was also being built on 15.63 hectares of reclaimed area on the landside.
CHENNAI: The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has suspended the environmental clearance (EC) granted to a tuna fishing harbour being constructed in Tiruvottiyur and imposed a Rs 12 lakh penalty on the State fisheries department for commencing work without obtaining statutory clearance and conducting adequate studies.
The bench of judicial member K Ramakrishnan and expert member K Satyagopal also directed the fisheries department not to commission the harbour project till necessary studies are completed and appraised by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). The tribunal gave six months for completing the studies and asked the SEIAA to evaluate them within three months from the date of their submission.
Although the petitioner, K R Selvaraj Kumar of NGO Meenava Thanthai, wanted the EC to be set aside, the tribunal said there was no need for it and suspended the clearance to the extent of directing the fisheries department not to commission the project while permitting it to undertake the project work in the onshore area. The fisheries department is constructing a tuna fishing harbour with a 69,000 TPA (tonnes per annum) capacity covering 30.87 hectares within the breakwaters.
Related infrastructure was also being built on 15.63 hectares of the reclaimed area on the landside. As per the Detailed Project Report, the proposed harbour will have fish handling halls, an auction hall, cold storage facility, an ice factory, a fuelling station, power backup centres and a dormitory for workers.
At present, there are about 300 boats operating from the Chennai fishing harbour exclusively to venture deep into the Bay of Bengal to catch tuna and bring in about 1,000 tonnes every month. TN is making attempts to improve facilities to promote deep-sea tuna catching and processing. The project was halted due to a violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification.
Now, the tribunal has directed the fisheries department to prepare a marine biodiversity management plan preferably through the National Institute of Ocean Technology. The report shall be based on the study of the impact of the project activities on intertidal biotopes, corals and coral communities in the area.