Chennai: The Union Environment Ministry has found Tangedco guilty of blocking the Ennore backwater with an illegal road that “clearly obstructs the natural flow of water within the creek, which may perhaps cause flood vulnerability in that area”. It appears that the state electricity board had ignored the factor that the area fell within the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ); besides, the local fishermen had pleaded that the project could seriously affect their livelihood.
An inspection report from the Environment Ministry’s Chennai office earlier this week said Tangedco “has encroached upon and blocked” the backwaters of Ennore creek by building an approach road of 350 metre length and six metre width for the construction of coal conveyor system for the Ennore thermal power station. The road was build “without obtaining the prior approval from MoEF&CC, New Delhi and Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Authority (TNCZMA).”
The report also revealed that the said road “clearly obstructs the natural flow of water within the Ennore Creek which may perhaps cause flood vulnerability in that area. Livelihood of communities in the surrounding Ennore Creek who directly depend on fishing activity may also be affected.”
According to a local fisher leader R.L. Srinivasan, the issue was taken to the notice of the TNCZMA in May 2017, when the fisherfolk and the environmentalists warned that the illegal road would create “a dangerous situation as it prevented the drainage of Kosasthalai’s waters into sea”. The locals were “very disappointed” that the district administration did not remove the encroachments in the creek, despite the promise after actor Kamal Haasan’s visit it would be done. “We are sitting on a dangerous situation. If the authorities don’t remove it, we will have to do it ourselves,” said P. Mahendran, a fisherman from Kattukuppam.