Explainer: What is the Rs 53,000 crore Kattupalli Port expansion project?

The Adani Group is seeking to expand the Kattupalli Port on the outskirts of Chennai even as the fishing community in the area and environmental activists have raised concerns about the impact on the coastal environment and livelihoods.
Explainer: What is the Rs 53,000 crore Kattupalli Port expansion project?
Explainer: What is the Rs 53,000 crore Kattupalli Port expansion project?
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In March this year, it was revealed that the Adani Group would be investing a whopping Rs 53,031 crore into the Kattupalli port on the outskirts of Chennai, to expand its existing capacity. The news came even as the Group submitted a revised master plan for the project, in order to secure an environmental clearance. The port, located along the coastline, north of Chennai, would also require clearance under the Coastal Regulation Zone notification. However, the move was met with resistance from the local fishing community and environmental activists who pointed out that the expansion of the port would have an adverse impact on the ecology of the coast and affect livelihoods as a result.

Classified as a minor port by the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board, the Kattupalli port was acquired with 97% stake by the Adani Group in July 2018 from Larsen and Toubro Limited (L&T) and named Adani Kattupalli Port Private Limited. Located in Thiruvallur district, 30 km north of Chennai, the port serves the ‘hinterland of North Tamilnadu, Chennai Region, Bangalore region and South Andhra Pradesh' via sea transport. At present, the port handles a capacity of 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per annum facilitating trade in the region. “We have got two berths with quay length of 710 meters, 6 Quay cranes, 15 RTG cranes, 2 no’s weigh bridge (one each at the In gate and Out gate), office cabins with EDI connectivity for Custom officials and canteen facility,” Adani Group says on its website.

The plan

While a third berth at the port is under construction, Adani Group has sought clearance for an additional quay length of 9567 meters. In addition to this, it seeks to develop barge berths for a quay length of 1,250 meters, 12 port crafts, and 2 SPMs (Single Point Mooring). Stating that the berth and type of cargo would be for commercial and business requirements, Adani Group states in its Revised Master Plan that trans loading facilities, backup facilities, independent port craft facilities, waste reception facilities, conveyor systems, drainage, water supply, electrical works, internal roads, railway works and other utilities, amenities and bunkering will also be developed.

Significantly, Adani Group proposes a land reclamation of 1145 hectares including landfilling for an estimated 138 mm3. The construction phase alone would require 0.8 MLD (Millions of Liters Per Day) of water per day. “Water will be sourced from existing source for construction phase. 30 MLD capacity desalination plant will be constructed in modular manner for operation of Revised the Master Plan. The source of water for this desalination plant is Sea Water. Process water for Cryogenic facilities will be taken from sea and discharged back in to the sea.” (sic) the plan explains.

Objections raised  

Soon after the plan was presented to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, concerns were raised by locals who warned of soil erosion in the area that could pose a threat to the water level in the city. Earlier last week, a three-member Environment Assessment Committee visited the port to examine whether the concerns of the fishing community and environmentalists was being addressed.

Speaking to TNM, K Saravanan of the Coastal Resource Centre said that the fishing community in the area made representations to the committee during their two-day visit. “The committee first examined the port and went inside on the first day. On the second day, they were at the mouth of the Kosasthalaiyar river. It’s an important place between Goonamkuppam and Kattupalli. The surrounding villages is where the majority of the fishing happens. The fishing community told the committee that the area acts as a natural barrier against erosion. Development in the area would have an adverse impact on the nearby Pulicat Lake as well. The fishing community explained that when salt and ground water mixes, water levels will be affected. The committee promised them that they will register all the facts.”

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