Environment
The degraded state of the Ennore Creek is only the symptom; our corrupt, inept and unaccountable regulators are the disease.
  • Friday, January 13, 2017 - 15:30

The Ennore Creek is being slowly choked. This dynamic brackishwater wetlands complex with mangroves, salt pans, tidal mudflats and flowing water protects us from flooding and cyclonic storm surges, and supports fisher livelihoods. Kamarajar Port has designs to convert more than a 1000 acres of wetlands into real estate. TANGEDCO is using it as a dumpyard for toxic flyash. Such blatant illegalities are possible only because they are hidden from public sight, and because our regulators -- TNPCB, CMDA, and the State Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA) -- are lax.

The degraded state of the Ennore Creek is only the symptom; our corrupt, inept and unaccountable regulators are the disease. It is not too late to save the Ennore Creek. The Creek can be cleaned up. But for that, we have to clean up the TNPCB, CMDA, the CZMA and other agencies of the government.

If you want to help save Ennore creek, fill up the form, sign the petition and hit 'Submit'. (Content below) (Campaign organised by the Vettiver Collective and Justice Rocks)

PETITION CONTENT

To: The Hon'ble Members of the National Green Tribunal (Southern Zone)

National Green Tribunal, Southern Zone Bench
950/1, TNPCB Building, P.H. Road, Arumbakkam, Chennai

January 2017

Dear Hon'ble members of the National Green Tribunal (South Zone):

We are resorting to this mass petition only because a formal application by one or a few people representing the public interest would be inadequate to underscore the gravity of the matter at hand – which is the protection of the Ennore Creek, its associated wetland complex and other similarly threatened Poromboke areas in the state. We are aware that a number of cases are already pending on various issues dealing with the health of the Ennore Creek, and the illegal encroachment and pollution by Kamarajar Port, TANGEDCO and other entities. A private application cannot capture the public concern at the state of the creek or the sentiment of anger prevailing against regulatory agencies that have by acts and silence handed over thousands of acres of Ennore wetlands to private and public sector industries for use as a dumpyard or for conversion into real estate.

Stretching from Lake Pulicat in the North to the Manali wetlands in the south, the Ennore Creek drains two major rivers – the Kosasthalaiyar and the Araniyar – into the Bay of Bengal. The dynamic brackishwater ecosystem is capable of supporting a rich variety of flora and fauna, particularly fish. The degradation of the Creek is mirrored by the degradation of the livelihoods of thousands of fisher families whose economic security is tied to the health of the river.

The 2015 Chennai floods, the ever-present threat of water scarcity and the devastation left behind by cyclones such as Vardah point to glaring mistakes in how we, as a society, under-value unbuilt spaces such as wetlands, waterways and beaches which usually fall under the revenue category of “Poromboke.” In Ennore, the Government has equated Poromboke wetlands to empty, unused, worthless areas that are begging to be used, built upon and injected with new worth. Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority's Masterplan has earmarked more than 2000 acres of Ennore wetlands as sites for hazardous industries. Kamarajar Port has and continues to encroach on the salt pans and the creek in blatant violation of several laws. TANGEDCO is using the Creek as a flyash dump. NTPC has built a power plant and ash dyke in Vallur over mangrove-fringed salt pans.

Our perverted value system considers the Ennore wetlands to be so worthless that their use, even if only as a receptacle for sewage, or industrial effluents is seen to be of more value than its existence as a life-giving wetland capable of storing water and protecting us from floods and storm surges.

Every step of the way, laws have been flouted with impunity by those that made the laws and are obliged to safeguard it. The CRZ Notification, the Air and Water Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Town and Country Planning Act, High Court orders prohibiting encroachment of water bodies, injunctions against discharge of flyash into the Ennore Creek – the list of laws that have been violated is endless.

That it is illegal is only incidental. Laws can be, and are often changed to suit powerful violators. That may alter the consequences under human law. But the consequences of violating nature's laws remain unchanged. The unrestrained diversion of Poromboke areas for use as real estate or dumpyards is what caused the 2015 floods.

If the degraded state of the Ennore Creek is the symptom, Our inept, corrupt and unaccountable regulators – the TNPCB, the state Coastal Zone Management Authority and the CMDA – are the disease. We are approaching  you seeking treatment not merely of the symptoms but also of the disease. Our regulators and the officials in these agencies must be held to account.

Specifically, we request you to:

a) Order an independent audit into the lapses of TNPCB, State Coastal Zone Management Authority, CMDA and PWD that led to the degradation of the Ennore Creek under their watch.

b) Halt all construction on creek, river and salt pan areas in the Ennore Creek region and direct power plant operators to stop discharging flyash and flysh-contaminated waters into the Creek;

c) Direct CMDA to redraft the Masterplan by declaring wetlands as No Development Zones.

d) Direct responsible parties to restore the ecology of the Creek in a time-bound manner;

e) Direct regulators to prosecute violators.

Sincerely,