Fisherfolk belonging to several hamlets, from the Chennai Port to Manali, on Tuesday vehemently opposed the laying of a 42-inch crude oil pipeline by Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL), stating that their lives would be endangered if the project was allowed to proceed.
Speaking at a public hearing conducted by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) at Tiruvottiyur, the fisherfolk termed the hearing an eyewash and said they would fight the laying of the pipeline till the end. “We will lie down on the route of the pipe and not allow work to proceed,” said N. Vasu of Thirichinankuppam.
Tension prevailed at the hearing for some time after an employee of the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) said the pipeline must not be shifted to Ennore Port, as the livelihood of hundreds of ChPT employees would be affected, and the project would not harm the fisherfolk. The fisherfolk raised slogans and rushed forward. However, a posse of around 50 policemen calmed them down.
M.A. Jayakumar of ‘Kadal Ora Makkal Paadhukappu Amaippu’ said the company had not done much in terms of corporate social responsibility for their people. “Not just fisherfolk but residents of entire north Chennai will be affected by this pipeline,” he said.
Representatives of Voice of Indian sought to know whether senior officials of CPCL and TNPCB would come to live along the pipeline to ensure its safety. “Let the government make a rule that all senior officials of CPCL and TNPCB must reside here. If not the company’s license must be cancelled,” the representative said.
V. Srinivasan, general manager (Corporate Planning) of CPCL, who explained the project details, said the company had to change the pipeline that was laid in 1969 as it had aged and was passing through areas where habitations had come up over the years. A system would be installed to ensure that no leaks are there in the 17-km long pipeline. The pipe can withstand pressure up to 120 kg/cm2.
He said that by laying the line along the Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP), land acquisition would not be involved. The Rs. 126 crore-project would take 12 to 18 months to complete. The company, he said would try to address the grievances of the fisherfolk.
The TNPCB also issued consent to establish the pipeline that would be laid beneath the service lane of the EMRIP.
Tiruvallur collector Ashish Chatterjee was also present at the hearing.