Plea to stop building seawall, groynes

The National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, on Tuesday ordered notices to the Central and State governments on a plea to stop the ongoing construction of “hard” structures, such as seawalls and similar measures that disrupt the natural movement of sand along the coastal areas in the districts of Cuddalore, Villupuram and Puducherry.

The Bench comprising judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member R.Nagendran also directed the Union and Tamil Nadu, Puducherry governments to file their reply on 28 February.

O. Fernandes, Co-convenor, Coastal Action Network, Chennai and C.H. Balamohan of Puducherry filed the application.

In their application, they said seawalls and groynes were being built without any carrying capacity studies at Chinnamudalaiyar Chavadi Kuppam in Villupuram district and Devanampattinam in Cuddalore district. The coastal environment of the Puducherry-Tamil Nadu region was already heavily impacted by the ongoing human induced erosion of the coast caused by the Puducherry harbour. Further armouring of the coast with seawalls and groynes would only result in reducing the carrying capacity of the coastal environment beyond the point of self-sustainability.

The applicants also said that several activists had complained to the respective governments and warned of the worsening environmental and economic disaster. Both governments have ignored these warnings and continued to build hard structures, in Cuddalore, Puducherry and Villupuram, disrupting the natural flow of coastal sediment, damaging their own coast and their neighbour’s, in complete disregard of the economic, social, and environmental consequences of this construction.

Appearing before the Tribunal, T.Mohan, counsel for the applicants, submitted that the activity would cause further damage to the coastline, and to the lives and livelihoods of those who live along the coastline, if it is allowed to proceed. No proper environmental impact assessment has been done by the authorities concerned. The economic consequences of the damage caused by the construction of the groyne would be disastrous.

The matter was posted for further hearing on February 28.

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