Thermal stations told to dredge Buckingham Canal

Clean-up drive:Buckingham Canal joins the Ennore Creek at the point where the coal conveyor belt for the NTECL power plant at Vallur crosses the creek. —Photo: Special Arrangement  

The Tiruvallur district administration and the Commissionerate of Revenue Administration have directed thermal power stations and industries in Ennore to dredge the silt-filled Buckingham Canal ahead of the Northeast monsoon to ensure the free flow of flood water.

The direction comes in response to pleas from environmental activists and fishermen who joined hands for the ‘Save Ennore Creek’ campaign to protect the creek from industrial pollution.

The creek, whose extent is 4 square kilometres, is the point of confluence of the Kosasthalaiyar river, North Buckingham Canal and the sea. District administration officials said thermal power plants, including the Ennore thermal power plant, North Chennai thermal power station, and the NTPC Tamil Nadu Energy Company Limited and Kamarajar Port Trust have been instructed to clean the desilted portion of the Buckingham canal.

“We did not find any sand deposits in the Ennore creek. There has not been much dumping of fly ash in recent months and we are monitoring the creek for any signs of pollution. But the waterway needs attention,” said an official.

While the Ennore thermal power station has been cleaning up a 2-km stretch of the canal on the southern bank of the creek, the North Chennai thermal power plant and the Kamarajar Port Trust have been instructed to desilt nearly 8 km of the Buckingham Canal, which extends till Pulicat.

The next 3-km stretch will be dredged by a private company, sources added. A nearly 15-km stretch of the Buckingham canal would be desilted by the end of the monsoon.

“We have instructed that the top width of the canal must be maintained at 23 metres. Measures have been taken to ensure free flow of water instead of waiting for funds to be allotted by the Water Resources Department,” the official added.

Activists welcome move

Nityanand Jayaraman of the Chennai Solidarity Group, while welcoming the removal of debris dumped below a coal conveyor belt leading to the Vallur power plant, a road formed across the Kosasthalaiyar river and the work to remove fly ash in the Buckingham Canal, said this will ease the stress in the area.

“There are some points in the creek where you can just walk across due to sand deposits. That too has to be removed. We would be happy to show them those points so that work can be taken up there. We have already sent detailed recommendations to the district administration, and hope they would be implemented,” Mr. Jayaraman said.

“Similarly, the Buckingham Canal too needs to be desilted. As of now, only a small section of the canal has been dredged superficially and the dredged fly ash has been dumped on its sides. A thorough dredging job is needed, and the recovered fly ash should be removed. Otherwise, all the dredging work would be undone by the downpour,” he added.

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