A day after he encouraged residents of Chennai to raise their voice against encroachments at the Ennore Creek, actor Kamal Haasan visited the venue in Tiruvallur district himself. The star, who went to the spot at 5am on Saturday, surveyed the sites of encroachment which could spell disaster for the city in the face of the upcoming monsoons.
The visit was organised by environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman of the Coastal Resource Centre and TM Krishna, a Carnatic musician who has been openly voicing his support for the 'Save Ennore' campaign. The actor and activist arrived at the venue at around 5 am on Saturday morning, on Kamal's request.
"Kamal Haasan visited the area where there is coal ash contamination and also met with fisherfolk in Kaatukuppan. He also went to the areas where Kamarajar Port have violated norms," explains Nityanand. " He was completely shocked by the extent of damage inflicted upon the area. He recalled how decades back he was part of a stunt scene which involved jumping into the Kosasthalai River, an act that he simply cannot repeat now due to the pollution," he adds.
In a series of tweets on Friday, the star had joined the state's fisherfolk in their campaign to save the Ennore Creek.
With the monsoon fast approaching, the 'Ulaganayagan' sought to address this crucial matter in his tweets.
"The Kosasthalai River near Chennai that has not yet turned into a drain still provides livelihood to fishermen. We have lost 1090 acres from the creek due to selfish encroachments done with no environmental concern. The Vallur Thermal Plant and the North Chennai Thermal Power Plant continue to dump their ash into the Kosasthalai," he stated. "The government has been indifferent to this, though environmental activists have been protesting against these violations for years. Fisherfolk of the area working with other public are seeking to raise their voices but it’s like blowing a horn into a dead man’s ear," he alleged.
Fly ash caused by the North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) and Vallur Thermal plant and dumping of earth by the Kamarajar Port has severely affected the salt pans, wetlands and mangroves in the region. In addition to this, the Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum lends to the problem with their oil refineries that have been built on the river. And to make matters worse, the government is yet to learn its lesson even after the 2015 debacle.
"I hear that the work is on to encroach upon 1000 more acres of the creek in the guise of expanding Kamarajar Port Limited. Any state that does not give the poor the same help and priority that it gives to land dealers is like the riverbank that ignores a good river running by it. North Chennai will be flooded even if there are normal rains like last year," warned Kamal Haasan.
The actor then went on to tell his followers to not wait for the government to act but to go ahead and set things right themselves.
The Coastal Resource Centre, which has been taking on the Tamil Nadu Government in the fight to save the Ennore Creek, appeals to Chennai's residents to understand the larger impact that this encroachment will cause. The organisation is forming a human chain at Besant Nagar beach on Saturday at 3.30 pm to raise awareness about the campaign.