Study establishes over 15 acres have already been converted; space for vehicles and roads being developed on sands by dumping debris

Beaches in various parts of the city are being converted into parking spaces and roads, according to a study.

The research — commissioned by the Save Chennai Beaches Campaign — was carried out by faculty members of various institutions, such as the Indian Institute of Science. It has established that over 15 acres of beach sands have already been converted into parking lots and roads by agencies such as the Public Works Department (PWD), the Chennai Corporation and private entities.

Around 2.6 acres of beach sands have been converted into parking lots at Pattinapakkam by dumping and compacting of debris in the past few years. The study has found that the Chennai Corporation and the PWD were responsible for the dumping.

A 0.4 acre-area of sands in Srinivasapuram beach has been converted into a shed for migrant labourers and this too was through the dumping of debris. The identity of the agency behind this is as yet unknown. Another 0.3 acre area of beach sands in the same locality has been encroached upon by the PWD for construction of a road leading to the Adyar estuary.

The Chennai Corporation and PWD have also dumped debris in an intertidal zone of Adyar creek to create a bund in an area measuring 5.78 acre, the study found.

At present, debris has been dumped on the mudflats of the Adyar river in Anna Sathya Nagar. Over 5.71 acre area of beach has already been covered by the civic body, PWD and private contractors.

A private entity has dumped debris on Thiruvanmiyur beach to construct a road in an area of 0.28 acre. The same entity has encroached upon another 3.4 acre of area, according to the study. The Chennai Corporation has dumped debris to construct a road from Kapaleeswarar Nagar beach to Periya Neelangarai which has eaten up 0.35 acre of beach area.

Chennai Corporation lorries have been found to have dumped debris on many of the coastal stretches, according to the study. However, the civic body officials said they were getting rid of the debris only in dumping yards.

Google Earth images from 2001 to 2004 show that a stretch of beach in Pattinapakkam was covered with sands. The study has found that the area has now been filled with two-metre-high construction debris which has been compacted and made into a parking space. Researchers in the team said, this was unauthorised and a violation of CRZ notification.

This site is now unsuitable for nesting of the highly endangered Olive Ridley Turtle. The researchers say such man-made structures would obstruct the littoral drift from south to north along the east coast and affect Marina beach in the long run. Sandy beaches function as barriers to keep sea water from contaminating inland aquifers. Beach erosion would accelerate contamination, according to the study.

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