Tamil Nadu

Felling of trees at power plant raises concern

Activists and fishermen are concerned about the cutting of trees and removal of bushes inside the North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS).

The trees, according to them, were part of a greenbelt meant to abate pollution from NCTPS Stage I and II, coal-based power plants.

“The felling of trees began sometime last August. There was a lot of wildlife, including snakes, mongoose and wild hare, in that area. A survey was even conducted by the Forest Department. We want them to stop cutting the trees and instead start planting saplings in the area,” said R. L. Srinivasan, a fisherman of Kattupakkam.

‘50 acres cleared so far’

Using Google Maps, activists said that around 50 acres of greenery has been cleared so far and at least 140 more acres would be cleared for the Stage III of the NCTPS project.

“The NCTPS has also dumped construction debris and tree stumps from the civil works along a temporary road inside the Ennore creek in front of its main gate,” said Nithyanand Jayaraman, environmental activist.

No clearance as yet

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board is yet to give ‘Consent to Establish’ for the project for which the trees are being cut, he said. The mangroves in the creek have become brownish grey because of dredging and fly ash dumped in the area, he claimed.

“During last year’s cyclone the fly ash waste from the thermal station was washed and blown all across the creek. It has also blocked the openings beneath the bridge that leads to the estuary,” said K. Bala of Sivanpadaiveedu fishing hamlet near the Ennore Creek, which is home to prawns, crabs and fish, including kendai, koduva and maduva .

Senior officials of Tangedco said that environmental clearance has been obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the Stage III of the project.

“Only preliminary geo-thermal tests and test piles for soil test are being done. The construction will start after getting Consent for Establishment from the pollution control board,” the officer explained.

As far as the trees were concerned, twice the number cut down would be planted as per norms, he said, adding that the entire tree cover was planted by Tangedco after NCTPS phase I came up.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2022 10:31:14 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/felling-of-trees-at-power-plant-raises-concern/article17712104.ece