Kattupalli: plea in HC over venue of hearing

The Madras High Court on Friday sought the response of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to a petition about the public hearing venue for the ₹53,000 crore expansion project to be taken up at Kattupalli port.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy ordered notice, returnable in two weeks, to industrialist Gautam Adani-owned Marine Infrastructure Developer Private Ltd., which operates the port in Tiruvallur district and had decided to go for expansion of its handling capacity by over 12 times.

P. Ethiraj, 51, president of an association of traditional fishermen in Tiruvallur district, had filed the public interest litigation petition stating that the public hearing must be conducted either at the project site or in close proximity so that maximum number of local residents could participate and express their concerns. He objected to the venue being fixed 20 km away in Minjur.

Distant venue

When the judges pointed out that the public hearing was scheduled to be held on Friday, petitioner’s counsel told the court that it had been postponed.

The petitioner said the plan to conduct the public hearing at Minjur would defeat the purpose since women and the elderly might not be able to travel to the venue.

“While 20 km might not appear to be a long distance if one were to travel on highways and in cars, Kattupalli is a village with limited transport services and bad roads. Expecting thousands of people to travel to Minjur if they want to participate in public hearing is illegal and contrary to the mandate of the law,” the counsel said.

Highlighting the seriousness of the issue, the petitioner, in his affidavit, said that the proposed expansion of the port would affect seaside villages of Koraikuppam, Vairavankuppam, Arangankuppam, Tirumalai Nagar, Sembasipallikuppam, Lighthouse Kuppam and Goonankuppam. Therefore, it was essential to have an effective public hearing. “The erosion, I have been advised, will breach the narrow strip of sand separating Pulicat lagoon from the Bay of Bengal. When this happens, the Bay and the Lagoon will merge and this will threaten other inhabited portions like Sattankuppam, Edamani and Pasaiyavaram. The Pulicat bird sanctuary and lagoon will be severely affected,” he added.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:15:32 AM |

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