The Environment Ministry said Tangedco’s road “obstructs the natural flow of water withing the Ennore Creek”.

Villages face flooding as Tangedcos illegal road encroaches upon Ennore Creek
news Environment Saturday, November 04, 2017 - 16:55

Like many parts of Chennai, the fishing villages near Ennore Creek came under a sheet of water following heavy rains this week. That encroachments are to blame for flooding along this backwater in Tiruvallur district and North Chennai have been highlighted by environmental activists in the past.  

In what has come now as a shot in the arm for the ‘Save Ennore Creek’ campaign, the Union Environment Ministry has found Tamil Nadu’s power distribution company Tangedco guilty of encroaching upon the Ennore Creek.

An inspection report dated November 1, 2017 by the Regional Office of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change states that a road laid by Tangedco “obstructs the natural flow of water within the Ennore Creek which may perhaps cause flood vulnerability in that area.” The report also noted that livelihood of communities in the surrounding Ennore Creek who directly depend on fishing activity “may also be affected” owing to the road.

The inspection report pointed out that the road had been constructed without obtaining the approval of the Environment Ministry and the Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Authority (TNCZMA).

Built in May 2017, Tangedco had illegally laid the road across the Ennore creek at the point where the Kosasthalaiyar turns east to empty into the Bay of Bengal, stated the Coastal Resource Centre. 

And while there was opposition from the fishing community in Karrukappam when the road was constructed, Tangedco paid little attention to the protests.

“The situation is that the road has been laid at a place where all the water that has drained inside Ennore Creek turns to go to the Bay of Bengal. There have been some obstructions in the water flow. Yesterday, the water reached the fishing villages, this agitated the fishermen because they have been speaking about encroachments for the last six months,” says Pooja Kumar from The Coastal Resource Centre.

Elaborating on the problems caused by the illegal road, the activist observes, “One is that it causes obstruction of the water flow, second is the flooding of the fishing villages and because of the obstruction, the natural way the water flows changes so the fishermen have trouble in navigating.”

The illegal road was brought to the attention of state officials in June, when Saravanan Kasi from The Coastal Resource Centre wrote a letter to the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Chief Secretary. "As you read this, Tangedco is dumping earth to block a section of the Creek at the point where the creek turns east near Mugatwarakuppam towards the Bay of Bengal. This activity – for construction of a coal conveyor belt -- too has no legal sanction. No hydrological studies were performed. No studies on the activity's impact on fisheries are in evidence. No studies on how the activity would alter silt deposition, erosion and scouring of other vital structures such as railway bridges in the vicinity were asked for or provided. The CRZ clearance granted to Tangedco clearly says fisherfolk or movement of fisherfolk should not be disturbed, and that the entire structure should be underground."

Spread across 8000 acres, the Ennore Creek serves multiple functions- from sustaining the economies of six fishing villages, to flood mitigation, absorbing storm surges and arresting salinity intrusion. Located to the north of Chennai, the Ennore Creek drains two rivers – the Araniyar and Kosasthalaiyar which meet at Ennore Creek before flowing into the Bay of Bengal at Mugathwarakuppam.

(Edited by Anna Isaac)

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