TANGEDCO’s under-construction thermal power plants in North Chennai have been accused of blocking the flow of the Kosasthalai river and damaging mangroves to illegally carrying out works without obtaining permissions from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.
A three-member team comprising of S Janakarajan, former professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, musician TM Krishna and Poovulagin Nanbargal G Sundarrajan inspected the illegal works underway on the Kosasthalai river at the behest of the Save Ennore Creek campaign and local fisherfolk on Monday morning.
A bridge is being constructed to support a pipeline for carrying coal-ash from the under-construction Stage III of the North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) to the leaking ash dyke in Seppakkam while another bridge is being constructed to carry a new coal conveyor belt and seawater from Kamarajar port to Ennore SEZ plant destroying mangroves and blocking the flow of water.
At Seppakkam, local villagers said that the construction works were stopped after they objected to the dumping of construction debris and sand on the riverbed and the watercourse blocking the flow of water. The ash pipeline construction work was happening alongside the existing pipeline road that has the old and leaking pipelines for TANGEDCO’s stage I and II power plants. “NCTPS III got environment clearance stating that it will only be generating dry coal ash and will be disposing it on daily basis and it will not need an ash pond for it,” environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman said, adding that now they are laying an ash pipeline without getting any clearance or consent from the TNPCB.
When asked about works undertaken by the NCTPS and Ennore SEZ power projects on the Kosasthalai river without getting permission from the TNPCB, TANGEDCO CMD Rajesh Lakhani said if there was some deviation in the works, corrective measures will be taken. He said that he saw some reports of debris being dumped on the river. “That may be temporary and cleared immediately. I will check out why it was dumped and it will be cleaned up. It is not an issue at all. We will immediately do it. We are conscious of the environment and we will not do any that will affect it,” he told DT Next.
A senior TANGEDC official involved in the Ennore SEZ thermal power project said that the works are undertaken only after following the due process and approval. “We have got the CRZ clearance. We are doing works along the backwater of the river and have built a temporary road dumping sand not debris to undertake works. After the works, we will restore it to its original condition. We will not block the flow of water. We are following the PWD norms,” the official said, adding that they had deposited Rs 10 lakhs with PWD if the contractor failed to remove the temporary structures on the backwater.