Environmental activists are demanding that construction on the third phase of the North Chennai Thermal Power Station in Ennore be halted since there is a wide variety of wildlife within the area of the plant that is at risk from continued construction.
Forest officer Murugesan said that an inspection by activists and officials of the forest department found a variety of wildlife and plant life within the area of the expansion project that should not be endangered by further development of the power station, which is to be commissioned by the financial year 2019-2020.
“About two months ago, many staff members from the power plant complained to us that they saw a tiger inside the plant. We patrolled the area along with forest department officials. There were no tigers inside but we spotted wild cats, deer, wild boar, jackals, 100 different types of birds and many banyan trees,” said animal activist Shravan Krishnan.
Murugesan, also confirmed to The News Minute that the department had undertaken a search for a tiger. “We were informed about a tiger inside the power plant. First, we put up three cameras to check. About two weeks ago, around 52 cameras were installed inside the power plant. Many different kinds of animals were spotted there.”
He added that further construction would displace many animals, and rehabilitating them from the area should be an immediate priority.
He also said that consultations will be taken up with the warden of the Wildlife Department in Guindy, based on which the future course of action will be finalised.
The NCTPS has been consistently opposed by environmental activists because of the deforestation it will result in. Activists also allege that power plants in Ennore disturb the hydrology of the area by encroaching on the river and blocking ingress to the creek. These encroachments downstream caused flooding of upstream areas such as Sadayankuppam, Manali New Town and Burma Colony in 2015, they allege.
The NCTPS has faced not only opposition by environmentalists, but also legal hurdles from builders, as the tender process awarding the contract to BHEL was opposed by a construction consortium. It was only in October that the Supreme Court provided relief to TANGEDCO and BHEL over the tender process.