The residents of Pazhaverkadu, Thangal perumpulam and Lighthouse panchayats in Tiruvallur district held a massive dharna against the proposed expansion of Adani Kattupalli Port Private Limited (AKPPL) by the Marine Infrastructure Developer Private Limited (MIDPL) on Wednesday. The residents have been opposing the expansion of the port citing livelihood and environmental issues. The proposal aims at expanding the existing port in Kattupalli at a cost of Rs 53,000 crore for larger capacity handling and a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) has reportedly granted the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the expansion of the port amid widespread protests by the fisherfolk and environmentalists.
COMPANY CONCEALED CRUCIAL INFORMATION
The CRZ mandates preparation of Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) indicating that the fishing grounds and fish breeding areas must be prepared along with a detailed local level CZMP, consisting details of fishing villages, their community infrastructure, livelihood spaces and a long-term housing plan for the fishing community. The fisherfolk allege that these have not been completed till date.
A press statement released by the coordination committee of the villages protesting against the expansion of the port claimed that the ToR has been granted based on this incomplete report. The statement also accused the state and central governments of incompetence and of not abiding by the rules while sanctioning a crucial project.
Around 50,000 families around the villages depend on fishing in the sea and backwaters in the proposed expansion area. The people also fear that their relocation on expansion could force them to spend more time on commute to the seashore and to transport their catch. The facilities provided for parking of the fishing boats, maintenance of boats and fishing nets will also be taken away if the expansion materialises, alleges the fishing community.
The villagers are no longer willing to believe in the glamorous promises of jobs to the affected people.
Apart from the livelihood issues, the expansion could severely impact the ecological and environmental balance of the region as well as the city of Chennai and its suburbs. Pooja Kumar, environmental activist and a member of Save Ennore Creek campaign, while speaking to NewsClick, said, “The natural ecosystem of the Pulicat lake will be severely affected while the erosion of sea from the Northern side will be accelerated affecting the islands of Pulicat.”
The Kattupalli region is a crucial location for the ground water supply to Chennai. “If the wet lands are filled and possibility of salt water intrusion gets accelerated, the ground water will become saline like what happened in locations around Ennore,” she added.
EXPOSURE TO FLOODS
The proposed expansion requires creation of 2,000 acres of land inside the sea and the adjoining areas including the Ennore-Pulicat backwaters, which the company plans to create by dumping dredged sand and sand from the Palar river. The backwaters and the wetlands have protected most of the North Chennai from flooding even during 2015. The filling up of these natural bodies would expose the areas including most parts of North Chennai, Manali, Madhavaram and Ponneri to floods.
The results of the proposed expansion being alarming, the governments seem to have no concern of the possible issues of the people. With the Adani Group being one of the biggest beneficiary of the Modi regime, the troubles of the public are on the rise.
Also read: Adani Group’s Plan to Expand Kattupalli Port Faces Opposition