NGT stays ECR four-lane work to save lake in Tamil Nadu
Environmentalists have raised concern about the expansion work on a km-long stretch of the road along the lake.
CHENNAI: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered an interim stay against the expansion of East Coast Road (ECR) along Odiyur wetland in Cheyyur taluk of Chengalpet district.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has recently started work on widening the Mamallapuram to Puducherry stretch of the ECR into a four-lane road. Hundreds of trees and shrubs were cleared from the sides of the road as part of the work, sources said.
Environmentalists have raised concerns about the expansion work on a km-long stretch of the road along the lake. TNIE had visited the lake and noticed yellow marker stones (proposed right of way) placed inside the water body. Vegetation and shrubs in a large area were removed and levelling work was carried out inside the lake area for road widening.
Though a senior NHAI project official told TNIE that necessary permissions, including Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance, have been obtained, the wetland area which is tidally influenced, hosts vast seagrass meadows and is home to thousands of winter migratory birds comes under no-development zone where such road construction work is prohibited.
Distressed over highway work within lagoon: Trust
Acting on a petition filed by RTI and fishermen activist K Saravanan, a green bench comprising judicial member Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member K Satyagopal stalled the road widening work along the lake and issued notices to Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Authority and others.
On January 21, a team from Palluyir Trust, a Chennai-based environmental organisation, along with TNIE carried out a bird survey at Odiyur lagoon and found over 17,000 migratory ducks including Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon and Garganey. Large and small wading birds like Greater Flamingos, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Black-headed Ibis, and Sand Plovers were also found.
“In total, we counted about 20,000 waterbirds. We were very distressed to see that a four-lane highway expansion is happening inside the lagoon which is a declared Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBBA) under Criterion A4i and a crucial stopover site for migratory birds in Tamil Nadu.
Every year, between November and March, this vast wetland supports at least 1% biogeographic population of several waterbird species,” said M Yuvan from Palluyir Trust. Supriya Sahu, additional chief secretary to the government, environment, forests and climate change department, told TNI E that the department will take steps to protect the wetland.
20,000 waterbirds counted
On January 21, a team from Palluyir Trust, a Chennai-based environmental organisation, along with TNIE carried out a bird survey at Odiyur lagoon and found over 17,000 migratory ducks & counted about 20,000 waterbirds