‘Sea Belongs to Fishermen’: Locals Against Adani Port Expansion

Environmentalists claim that expansion of port is illegal and prohibited under Coastal Regulation of 2011 and 2019

Updated
My Report
4 min read

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Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

Adani Port and special economic zone (SEZ) had proposed a revised development plan for the Kattupalli Port, Tamil Nadu in 2018. According to the Environmental Impact Assessment, the development plan mentions that the construction period of the harbour will be spread over 20 years.

Adani Port will be expanding the existing L&T port of 330 acres to 6,111 acres. Out of which 2,000 acres will be occupied in the sea by dumping sand and stones. The expansion of the port is said to occupy the Kattupalli barrier island near Pulicat.

Residents of Pulicat are protesting against the expansion of the port, fearing loss of livelihood and biodiversity of the area.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change approved the proposed plan of Kattupalli port in November 2018.
‘Sea Belongs to Fishermen’: Locals Against Adani Port Expansion
(Photo Courtesy: Benisha)

Livelihood of Fishermen in Question

Fishing is a major occupation of people living in 14 villages, that is situated in and around Kattupalli. The Pulicat Lake is rich in marine diversity, as it is a natural brackish water. Fishermen of the Pulicat dread that their livelihood will be in danger if the project comes up there.

“The place that they would be occupying in the sea is where we go fishing. Various types of fish and prawns are found there.”
Resident, Gunangkupaam

Several social activists and climate change groups in Chennai claim that the Adani Port project is illegal and unethical. The revised project plan is prohibited under Coastal Regulation Zone Notifications 2011 and 2019, as ports are not permitted to be set up in high-erosion zones.

“For building a new port, it should be built in a place which has no sea erosion. Since the government has ruled out this place as a high-eroding zone, the proposed plan mentions that it is only expanding.”
Prashanth, volunteer, Chennai Climate Action Group
‘Sea Belongs to Fishermen’: Locals Against Adani Port Expansion
(Photo Courtesy: Benisha)

People of the village are protesting against the expansion of the port, as it will impact the wetlands and destroy the ecologically fragile lake, which also serves as a wildlife sanctuary. Environmentalists allege that the conversion of this wetland into an industrial area will have a drastic impact on water security in Chennai. As the entire area of the proposed plan is a coastal stretch, the chances of sea erosion will be broadened if the port is built there.

“The water cannot exit to the sea when there is heavy rain, if the Adani Port is built. The Kosasthalaiyar – one of the major rivers of Chennai – will not be able to flow into the sea when it is full. In that case, the water will fill the land, and areas, especially Thiruvallur and North Madras, will be prone to floods.”
Prashanth, Volunteer, Chennai Climate Action Group

Claims of False Promise by L&T

In 2008, when the L&T port was built at Kattupalli, the entire Kattupalli Kuppam was evacuated, promising permanent jobs to the fisherfolk. 

During the Kattupalli Port construction, people living along the shore were forced to evacuate. Yashodha amma, a well known woman of the Kattupalli kuppam has been fighting against the corporate company for 12 years now, as she was promised a permanent job. Hoping that her future generation will have a better livelihood, she decided to leave the town along with the other thousands of people of Kattupalli.

“In 2008, L&T promised us permanent jobs. They have still not made us a permanent employee. In the last 12 years, they have only been giving us a salary of Rs 15,000.”
Yashodha, resident, Kattupalli Kuppam 
‘Sea Belongs to Fishermen’: Locals Against Adani Port Expansion
(Photo Courtesy: Benisha)

Protesting against industrial development project plans, people of Pulicat are striving to sustain their livelihood, and are trying to protect the natural ecosystem of the place, where they have been living for generations.

Public Hearing Against Adani Port and SEZ Postponed

“The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had announced a public hearing last month. Now they have postponed it, stating that a large number of people will attend the meet. This reason has no meaning.”
Prashanth, volunteer, Chennai Climate Action Group

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had announced a public hearing on the revised port plan on 22 January 2021. But the meet was postponed citing COVID-19 norms.

Social activist Nityanand Jeyaraman stated that the Pollution Control Board has not yet announced a new date for public hearing.

“A new date has not been announced for public hearing yet; it is indefinite. Also, the venue for public hearing is far away from the project site without any pubic transport facility connecting to the affected villages. This is planned in such a way to reduce the number of people visiting the public hearing.”
Nityanand Jayaraman, Environmentalist and Activist

Adani Port and SEZ Limited’s Response to The Quint

Roy Paul, Associate Vice President, Corporate Brand Custodian of Adani Group responded to The Quint’s query. He said that the proposed expansion project at Kattupalli will exclude the ecologically vulnerable areas, which are not permissible, bearing in mind the sustenance of the localised ecological needs.

“Our vision of capacity addition in Tamil Nadu would just not bring the logistics costs down but position the state as a prominent logistics hub fueling exports in the region. The project is also likely to add 15,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state.”
Roy Paul, Associate Vice President, Corporate Brand Custodian, Adani Group

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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