Activists ask, “Why is Chennai Corporation not taking action against illegal roads?”

 Illegal roads are choking Chennais coastline wake up Chennai CorporationImage: An illegal road from Palavakkam to Kottivakkam
news Saturday, October 24, 2015 - 15:07

This is a road that runs through Chinnandi Kuppam along Chennai’s coast.

This road is one among many ‘illegal’ roads between Thiruvanmiyur and Muttukadu, wrecking the livelihood of fishermen and natural ecology, according to activists.

The illegal roads running upto a total of 5.8 kms are affecting migratory birds, crabs and sea turtles, and 17 fishermen villages that exist near the roads. The fishermen blame the Chennai Corporation for its ignorance and inaction.

K. Saravanan, a fisherman from Urur Kuppam said, “These illegal roads affect our livelihood as there is no space left to keep our boats. These roads also encroach on our living spaces. Chennai Corporation is only concerned about large contracts to beautify the beach for the rich people.”

“The fishermen were not even consulted before building these roads. We have taken pictures of these illegal roads. The Corporation says it will take action against the concerned people, but nothing happens,” said Pooja Kumar, Coastal Resource Centre.

Chennai Corporation’s responses to Right to Information queries reveal that the roads at Kottivakam, Palavakkam and Neelangarai are not “approved roads”. But neither the Corporation nor the State Coastal Zone Management Authority has come forward to undo the illegality in the face of repeated complaints.

According to documents gathered by the Coastal Research Centre, about 10 illegal sea side roads have been laid down by civic bodies.

 “The roads were tarred in 2003. These private bodies encroach on mass land,” said Achuthan, Head of the Save Chennai Beaches organisation.

 Their ire at the Chennai Corporation evident as both fisherfolk and activists believe the corporation being a statutory body responsible for construction in Chennai, should have prohibited building illegal roads.

 “In almost all of these areas, these illegal roads have been accompanied by the construction of illegal buildings and resorts on the landward side of the road”, said Pooja Kumar.

 Akila Balu, part of the Student’s Sea Turtle Conservation Network said the sea turtles nests are made on the sea-shores and because of these roads they start walking towards these roads and end up either being eaten by dogs or being crushed by cars. Most of the hatchlings also do not survive in these conditions. The number of dolphins and migratory birds has also reduced in these years.

Crowding along the coast increases the vulnerability of the area to extreme weather events such as cyclone, affects the ecology and destroys livelihoods, but the Chennai Corporation seems to be napping. 

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