Public hearing on Adani’s revised master plan for Kattupalli port deferred

K Kanimozhi,  MP and senior DMK leader, said the government shouldn’t take threats with regard to livelihood, flooding and ecological damage lightly.

The Thiruvallur district administration has postponed a public hearing on the revised masterplan submitted by Adani for development of Kattupalli port.

According to the administration, the hearing was postponed in order to avoid a gathering in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

The company has applied for environmental clearance for a Rs 4,000-crore port and harbour project that is part of a Rs 53,400-crore masterplan.

Opposition parties have been putting pressure on the Tamil Nadu government to cancel the public hearing on the port – located near Chennai – that was scheduled to be held on January 22.

K Kanimozhi,  MP and senior DMK leader, said the plan that Adani Ports submitted to develop Kattupalli Port has major issues that the government must look into.

She added that the government shouldn’t take threats with regard to livelihood, flooding and ecological damage lightly.

She also said that the state needs to invest for industrial development but it cannot come at the cost of ecology and environment.

Another DMK MP Kalanidhi Veeraswamy wrote to the district collector, asking him to cancel the public hearing.

In his letter, he alleged that the project is illegal and a prohibited activity. The proposed masterplan includes components that will involve the conversion of wetlands into an industrial area.

“This will have disastrous implications for drinking water security of Chennai and may lead to more flooding,” he alleged.

Quoting various studies, he said the project is set to come up in Kattupalli, Kalanji and Karungali villages that are part of a high-eroding coastal stretch.

MDMK general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Vaiko said the expansion project will impact the environment as well as the people and it will be stopped.

Nityanand Jayaraman, an environmental activist, said the project – on the wetlands and the ecologically fragile sand dunes on the Kattupalli Barrier island – is illegal on several counts.

He alleged that by falsifying vital information and suppressing critical facts, the company has managed to get its proposal passed by the expert appraisal committee of the ministry of environment.

He alleged the project will lead to potential increase in pollution, and impact biodiversity.

Also, risk of flood will increase and drinking water resources will be impacted.

“Adani’s proposal to set up a mega port capable of handling 320 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) makes no business sense.

“Consider the following: All major ports in Tamil Nadu put together have a total cargo handling capacity of 253.9 mtpa. But total cargo handled in 2019-2020 (before the Covid-19 lockdown) was a meagre 114.9 mtpa.

“In other words, 55 per cent of the existing port capacity in Tamil Nadu is lying idle. Bringing in a new mega-port is not only not justified – its viability hinges on killing the business of existing ports,” said Jayaraman.

The Adani group had acquired 97 per cent in Kattupalli port, owned by Marine Infrastructure Developer, from Larsen and Toubro for Rs 1,950 crore in 2018.

Adani’s spokesperson said, “Adani Ports & SEZ, as a responsible corporate citizen, always strives to operate responsibly in an environmentally-sustainable manner.

“The construction of ports and harbours is a permissible activity according to CRZ Notification 2011 & 2019 and EIA Notification 2006 notified by the Government of India.”

Photograph: Kind courtesy, Adani Ports

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