Three retired judges have proposed the formation of sub-committees for registering people’s concerns for the restoration of ecology and livelihood in Chennai’s Ennore. The people’s recommendations would help in correcting the course of the government’s proposed interventions including the recently announced project – Ennore Eco-Restoration – at a cost of Rs 40 crore.
The People’s Plan for the Eco-restoration of the Ennore Wetlands, a framework aimed at restoring the health, economy, ecology and culture of Ennore and its people, was launched on Saturday, January 27, in Chennai. Three retired justices launched the framework that demarcated the lands to be restored, highlighted solutions to underlying problems and proposed steps for the state government to ensure residents are protected from industrial and natural disasters, among others.
Former Chief Justice of Orissa High Court, S Muralidhar, retired judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court K Kannan and retired judge of the Madras High Court, D Hariparanthaman conveyed the people’s suggestions chronicled in the People’s Plan.
The plan, drafted by activists including Nityanand Jayaram and K Saravanan after consulting with the people of Ennore criticised the overlapping state government initiatives including the Chennai River Restoration Trust, remediation of ash-contaminated areas of the Ennore wetlands and the restoration of Ennore wetlands, for not engaging with local communities and demarcating less than 1% of the wetlands that reportedly existed in 1996.
At the event, Justice Kannan pointed out that the disassociation by the state could be observed at all levels and added, “There is not a single elected representative here today. No Member of Parliament (MP), no local MLA and not even ward councillors are present here today. It is just Ennore’s people.”
Justice Muralidhar said, “All the three of us will ensure that the attention of the government is drawn to the issues of Ennore.”
Further, the plan demarcates the lands that need to be targeted and names industries and agencies that will be responsible for the landscape’s transformation over the years. It also elaborates on the need for changes that are required to be undertaken by various departments. The plan also emphasises the need for a study to be commissioned by the state to ascertain the threats to the health of the people caused by the air quality.
As a part of the project, an exhibition with film screenings and discussions is also being held in Mylapore’s Ashvita Art Gallery from January 26 to January 28, between 10 am and 7 pm.
Ennore, an industrial area located to the north of Chennai city, was affected by an oil spill that reportedly occurred from the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) on December 4, followed by an ammonia gas leak from the Coromandel International Limited (CIL) on December 26. After the gas leak, the residents have been protesting against CIL continuing operations at its Ennore plant.