Know About Tamil Nadu’s Eight-Lane Expressway to Environmental Hell

As a place wherein a slew of Government of India hashtags converge – #Bharatmala, #Sagarmala, #SmartCity and #MakeInIndia – Ennore ought to rank the various most unlucky of locations in India. Successive principal and kingdom governments have already sacrificed extra than 1,000 acres of the Ennore Creek to build port infrastructure, roads, rail traces and electricity plant life. This has devastated the local fishing economic system, irritated flooding and harmed agriculture and water security through causing salinity intrusion. But all this is not anything as compared to what’s in save for this beleaguered region.

Recently, Adani SEZ’s newly received subsidiary – Marine Infrastructure Development Pvt Ltd (MIDPL) – has proposed to installation a Rs-fifty two,000-crore ‘megaport’ to deal with coal, iron ore, cars, metallic, vegetable oils, containers and different bulk shipment. Adani’s inspiration lends a few readability to the grand scheme at the back of the eight-lane Salem Chennai Expressway, and the earnest violence of the kingdom government in pushing this hare-brained street challenge.

The environmental and social disruptions that the eight-lane road and the megaport will motive if they materialise could be fatal to the nation’s water, food and social safety. Violent tries to displace those labour-extensive economies are already obvious in Ennore and inside the way the eight-lane parkway has been aligned. In this lopsided warfare among the farmer and fisher on the one aspect and the nation on the alternative, the environment could be the collateral damage in an effort to harm all of Tamil Nadu.

Much has been written approximately the 8-lane dual carriageway. But to completely appreciate its implications, understanding the port idea and what its “viability” hinges on is essential.

The proposal

The sandy island of Kattupally is a skinny strip of tall dunes bounded by using the Pulicat Lake to the north, the Kosasthalaiyar’s Ennore Creek to the west, the Bay of Bengal to the east and the Kosasthalaiyar’s estuary to the south.

The authorities-authorized coastal area control plan of 1996 identifies the whole island and the wetlands to its west as ‘no improvement zones’ because of their ecological sensitivity. But no matter this protection, two ports, a coal-fired electricity plant and a desalination plant have arise on the island.

In 2017, L&T Shipbuilding Ltd. – one of the ports – bifurcated its Kattupalli operations by using demerging its port enterprise into a new challenge referred to as MIDPL. L&T retained the shipbuilding and restore facility spread over 361 hectares and MIDPL took with it 136 hectares and the port operations capable of handling 24.Sixty five million tonnes in line with annum (MTPA).

Currently, MIDPL’s capability is dwarfed by way of that of its bigger neighbour Kamarajar Port Ltd (KPL). But with Adani’s entry and its enlargement plans, MIDPL expects to ramp up capability to 359 MTPA – 8-times KPL’s throughput and more than a third of the overall ability of all Indian main ports combined.

MIDPL calls for 2,one hundred twenty hectares (five,239 acres) to recognise its plans. Some 440 hectares of new land could be created along the coastline via dumping sea sand, to deepen the shipping channel. MIDPL’s ‘feasibility report’ (PDF) states that dredged sea sand may also be dumped on six hundred hectares to raise the height to five metres above sea level. Most of those low-lying regions are part of the Ennore Creek.

Two new breakwaters with a complete period of nine.35 km will jut out into the ocean to shape the harbour and the shipping berths. A 30 million litre/day (mld) desalination plant will take care of the port’s freshwater wishes. This will suck in seventy five mld of seawater and discharge 45 mld of toxic hypersaline rejects into the ocean.

The cryogenic facilities required to handle liquefied natural gas (LNG) and petroleum gasoline (LPG) on the port will require seawater-in depth vaporisation stations. At complete ability, MIDPL’s vaporisation works will take in 2,880 mld of seawater and discharge an identical amount of effluent returned to sea. That is almost 4 times the sewage effluent handled through the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board. The used seawater will incorporate lines of sodium hypochloride, used as an agent to kill marine organisms within the intake seawater.

Who gains?

MIDPL’s achievement is premised on speedy and extensive industrialisation of the southern hinterland. A community of expressways radiate from the go out gates of the ports at Kattupally. Missing hyperlinks with critical trunk roads are rapid being stuffed up.

The Rs-12,three hundred-crore Chennai Peripheral Road will join the MIDPL port gate to the East Coast Road in Mamallapuram. This would require 800 hectares of land, more often than not privately owned. Nearly five,000 trees will be affected. This Japanese-funded road will join the ports to 4 countrywide highways, and the proposed Salem-Chennai Expressway at Oragadam, the famous automobile hub.

A visualisation of the road network adjacent to the MIDPL. Credit: Google Earth and Coastal Resource Centre, 2018

A visualisation of the road network adjacent to the MIDPL. Credit: Google Earth and Coastal Resource Centre, 2018

The almost-whole Outer Ring Road mission, at a fee of Rs 2,000 crore, provides an even shorter link among the Kattupally ports and the 8-lane parkway via connecting Minjur to Vandalur, in which the expressway ends.

A Japanese-funded Smart City in Ponneri will be the nodal factor for the Japanese-funded 240 km, six-lane Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor. This could be connected to the ports via the peripheral street. What stays of the wetlands is to be developed as industrial actual estate for chemical, rubber and plastics industries.

With Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, Renault, Daimler AG, BMW AG, Mahindra & Mahindra, Caterpillar and Komatsu all placed in and around Oragadam and Sriperumbudur in Kanchipuram, the port hopes to be the go out point for one hundred fifty,000 automobiles a year, together with 4-wheelers and heavy motors.

If mining leases are given to extract iron ore from Kavuthimalai and Vediappanmalai in Thiruvannamalai district, and Kanjamalai in Salem, the 8-lane manner will facilitate its exit as ore or product. The Jindal-owned SISCOL, a maker of unique steels, would like that.

In February 2018, the finance and defence ministers one at a time announced that India’s first defence industrial corridor will arise along the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor. Global giants attracted by way of India’s low labour expenses, agency-pleasant labour rules and a hundred% FDI in defence production are predicted to invest in the place, boosting demand for industrial components that move into manufacturing the whole lot from handguns to aircraft. Multinational defence equipment manufacturers, commercial institutions like CII and real property bodies like CREDAI have welcomedthese plans.

Who loses?

The conflict lines are clean: farmers, farm people and fishers on one aspect, and an incongruous alliance of petty and big industrialists tugging along a desperate, unemployed battalion of footloose labour drawn from the decimated ranks of farm and fishworkers on the other.

Census records reveals that agricultural labour in Tamil Nadu declined from forty nine.5% of the whole group of workers to 42.1% inside the decade until 2011. This decline does now not correspond with an growth in higher fine jobs in industry or different new economies. Rather, as a Government of Tamil Nadu book efficiently notes, “This trend is a cause for rural-to-city migration and mushrooming increase of urban slums.”

The grand designs to herald a 2nd business revolution with the aid of India and China are suicidal even if evaluated simplest on the idea in their effect on freshwater – a aid as a way to determine or undermine the future of nations like India.

Each of the above schemes compromise water protection by way of altering contours, depleting aquifers, disrupting hydrological flows, contaminating what stays and aggravating salinity intrusion into groundwater aquifers.

In June 2018, Chennai made the list of a handful of Indian towns whose water will run out with the aid of 2020. In lean years, the parched town’s water utility sucks up more than a hundred mld freshwater from the Araniyar Kosasthalaiyar Basin. This once-wealthy useful resource base is below intense stress nowadays. Over-exploitation for consuming water and profligate consumption, decreased flows inside the Kosasthalaiyar river due to upstream abstraction and the constant decline of the Ennore wetlands has decreased groundwater recharge charges and worsened salinity intrusion.

This is certain to worsen. MIDPL, as an instance, proposes to flatten the sand dunes in Kattupally island and unload 40 million cubic metres of saline sand from the sea’s backside to make new land over the Ennore Creek. That volume of sand, if dumped evenly over Chennai, is sufficient to raise the whole metropolis’s contour by way of 10 cm. These acts will harm inland freshwater resources.

The roads radiating from the ports have a unique objective: high-pace mobility for vehicles. The right and want of water to flow is an afterthought. The roads either dam the flows or assume the large volumes of monsoon waters used to flowing as sheets over large areas to squeeze themselves thru slim and unwell-designed culverts. The result: harm with the aid of water-going surfing one aspect of the street, and by way of desiccation on the alternative.

The construction fabric for these tasks can even have an effect on faraway lands. MIDPL’s thought needs 12 million cubic metres (423 million cubic feet) of first-class sand – that is enough river sand to meet all of Tamil Nadu’s wishes for forty two days (with demand predicted to be 10 million cubic ft in line with day). River sands are water reservoirs.

Sand mining is unsustainable. According to The Guardian, “Sand accounted for 85% of the entire weight of mined fabric in 2014, but it’s miles replenished with the aid of rock erosion only over hundreds of years.”

The Ennore coast is eroding fast. In fact, the Kamarajar Port became set up despite warnings that it’d cause erosion. In 2006, a study through the Ministry of Earth Sciences sounded a clean warning: “Now, with the construction of Ennore port, 16 km north of Chennai port, another erosion trouble become (sic) emerged and comparable troubles like Chennai port are on the manner. If no intervention is planned, threat to ecologically touchy Pulicat Lake is inevitable.”

The additional erosion precipitated by means of MIDPL port will breach the slender strip of sand setting apart the lake from the Bay of Bengal and facilitate the latter’s march westward.

However, instead of strengthening the enforcement of environmental regulations, the surroundings ministry at the Centre, almost as though in anticipation of Adani’s task, has been diluting protections. On July 2, 2018, the ministry amended the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification. It is now criminal for “strategic” initiatives like Adani’s Sagarmala scheme to obliterate tidal wetlands.

It has been argued that increased intake of metal, cement, strength and building fabric to execute those initiatives will increase GDP in the close to time period. But the consequent topographical modifications, environmental degradation, aid depletion and social upheaval will make the long-time period unworthy of living.

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