Environmental activists and representatives of the fishermen villages of Kancheepuram district have charged that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on the 4000-MW, coal-fired power plant in Cheyyur had been constructed on a foundation of “blatant lies” that overlooked the vibrant coastal ecology of the region.

Representatives of the fishing hamlets along Cheyyur coastline, backed by a Chennai-based environmental group, Community Environment Monitoring (CEM), plan to file a case with the National Green Tribunal against the Experts Appraisal Committee, holding it responsible for fraudulent claims.

In their interaction with the media here, they presented a report, to substantiate their case.

Prepared by CEM, the report, according to them, lists the twelve ‘lies’ mentioned in the EIA report and backs each one of those with counterclaims. Among them are: claims that there were no sensitive ecosystems, including estuaries, in the vicinity of the project; there are no areas containing scarce resources in the area; no mangroves, seagrass beds near the project area; and the number of migratory birds in Cheyyur lagoon areas is negligible.

Nityanand Jayaram of CEM said the project site was located between the biologically productive Mudaliarkuppam and Alhambrai estuaries and was surrounded by irrigation tanks. Over 80 per cent of the land to be acquired for the power plant and the ash dump was agricultural land, while a three-lakh-tonne coal stocking yard was barely 200 metres from the sea on top of a sand dune. He charged that to obtain clearances project consultants – NIOT and WAPCOS – and the project promoter, Power Finance Corporation, claimed that the project was coming up on a barren, undeveloped land with minimum agricultural productivity.

M. Marimuthu, a representative of Panaiyur Periakuppam said villagers feared the impact the project would have on water bodies in and around the region.

Prof.S.Janakarajan of Madras Institute of Development Studies and Dr.Nanditha Krishna of CPR Environmental Center said the fragile ecology of coastal zones should not be tampered with.

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