The fishermen strongly protest against
any plan by Ennore Port to create a coal storage yard on the western side of
the creek; they are not at all prepared to lose any more wetland on which their
“We do not want any kind of development activity
to take place in the entire Ennore creek area. Protests will intensify until
the entire area is declared off limits for industrial projects, ” said Selvaraj
who represents a group of fishermen.
The Union environment ministry had
rejected part of the port’s expansion plans — those that envisaged building
office and commercial buildings and parking terminals on the eastern part of
the fragile inter-tidal salt pans. The ministry, in an order dated October 30,
asked the port managers to relocate those facilities saying water bodies were
Selvaraj welcomed the order saying half the
battle was won. However, he pointed out, the ministry had given its nod to create
a coal yard on the western side of the creek, which was as ecologically
sensitive as the eastern side.
R L Srinivasan, a fisherman from Kaatukuppam, a
key stakeholder village in the Ennore creek area, said: “The expert appraisal
committee that recommended the expansion appraised the project based on draft
coastal zone management plans prepared in 2018, instead of using the approved
1996 plans. These draft maps do not accurately show the extent of the wetlands.
The river does not only expand to the eastern floodplains. We have been asking
for the draft maps to be corrected and drawn in line with the natural state of
the river. We have not seen the final maps.”
Activists said that over the last two decades,
Ennore Creek has lost more than 1000 acres of wetlands to industrial projects,
including three thrermal power plants. They say a coal yard in the port would
worsen pollution further.
The main demand of the fisherfolk is that no
more of the wetlands must be diverted for any development purpose. Their
livelihood depends on the wetlands surviving.