Copy of CRZ clearance for KPL railway line doubling provided to residents last week

Activists had earlier claimed that work had begun without environmental clearance.

Activists had earlier claimed that work had begun without environmental clearance.   | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

The clearance copy was given after local residents protested against the work beginning on the Ennore Creek

Work on doubling of an existing railway line on the Ennore Creek by the Kamarajar Port (KPL) began with CRZ clearance and a copy of the CRZ clearance was provided to local residents late last week by the Superintendent of Police after they protested against the work being started by KPL, newly available information showed.

The CRZ clearance has laid down a number of conditions to be met by KPL including non-alteration or dressing of the sand dunes present in the vicinity or alteration of the natural features including landscape changes for beautification, recreation or any other such purpose. KPL was also directed to get ‘Consent To Establish’ from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board under the provisions of the Air and Water Acts.

Activists had earlier claimed work had begun without Environmental Clearance for the project as the information had not been made public on the website of the Ministry of Environment. Following this, when locals protested against the work beginning without clearance, a copy of the Clearance was provided by the SP, they said.

“It was earlier not clear if they had obtained EC/CRZ as the same was not made public as is mandated. After local people approached the SP, the clearance copy dated January 7 was shown. Although the clearance and the recommendation of the TNSCZMA prohibits encroaching into the tidal channel and dumping of excavated material into water bodies, these are being violated,” Pooja Kumar of Coastal Resource Centre said.

Environmental activists also said that it was mandatory to obtain Consent to Establish (CTE) under the Water and Air Acts before construction begins, and it was unclear if KPL had a valid CTE. Locals also said that the wetlands outside the CRZ were also being built upon.

According to Ms. Pooja, on both sides of the railway line, for which a bridge is being built, are inter-tidal salt pans and wetlands. Dumping concrete and construction debris will destroy the creek’s ecosystem, she said, adding that KPL had cut down full-grown mangroves for building the bridge. She pointed out that in November 2019, the EAC had only recommended the project for CRZ clearance with conditions that no excavated material during construction will be dumped in the waterbodies or adjacent area and the area needs to be restored to its original condition after construction. The EAC had also recommended planting of mangroves five times the number of mangroves cut down for the project.

Kamarajar Port Ltd (KPL) was recently fined over ₹8 crore for polluting the Ennore Creek and failing to clear up the pollution by the National Green Tribunal.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 2:12:36 PM |

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