Lessons from the 2015 Chennai floods are clearly still to be learned.
Two videos shot by an environmentalist on Thursday show the Kosasthalaiyar River and the Buckingham Canal being encroached upon along the Ennore-Manali expressway in Thiruvallur.
One video, shot by environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman on Thursday, is by the Buckingham Canal and shows piles of debris and sand bags lying near the canal. A road roller can be seen plying by the river.
The other video is of a road being laid across the Kosasthalaiyar River.
Speaking to TNM, Nityanand says that encroachment was first noticed about 20 days ago by a fisherman from Ennore. â€śWhen we enquired, we were told that Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) is laying a pipeline and the block is temporary,â€ť says the activist.
Despite complaints being sent to authorities, the dumping of debris has continued.
Nityanand explains that the road being laid at the Kosasthalaiayar River is 200 metres long, six to seven metres wide and about one metre high on the river bed.
Explaining the importance of retaining wetlands, Nityanand says they provide water security, allowing groundwater to be recharged. â€śThe wetlands act as a wall between the sea and ground water. If you start eliminating the wall, you are inviting sea water into groundwater. In times of water scarcity, groundwater will be damaged,â€ť he says.
â€śThis is an ecologically sensitive area, it is a wetland and has brackish water. These encroachments are illegal. It is against wetland rules and coastal regulations. State coastal management authority cannot have given permission,â€ť Nityanand points out.
The Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority, which is the nodal agency that grants clearances, reportedly did not have a record of CPCLâ€™s road in the minutes of its meeting.
But Tahsildar Senthil Nathan told TNM that CPCL received a No Objection certificate from the Public Works Department. â€śWe received a complaint on Thursday morning and have asked them to stop work immediately. We have also informed the Collector about the issue.â€ť
However, Thiruvallur Collector E Sundaravalli claims that she did not know about the road. â€śI will cross-check. This is news to me. I will enquire from the PWD department and get back,â€ť she says.