Illegal Roads Are Choking Chennai’s Coastline
This is a road that runs through Chinnandi Kuppam along Chennai’s coast. (Courtesy: The News Minute)
This is a road that runs through Chinnandi Kuppam along Chennai’s coast. (Courtesy: The News Minute)

Illegal Roads Are Choking Chennai’s Coastline

This road is just one among many ‘illegal’ roads between Thiruvanmiyur and Muttukadu, which are wrecking the livelihood of fishermen and the natural ecology, according to activists. The illegal roads running over a 5.8-km stretch are affecting migratory birds, crabs and sea turtles, and 17 fishermen villages that exist near the roads. The fishermen blame the Chennai Corporation for its ignorance and inaction.

The illegal roads are affecting migratory birds, crabs and sea turtles, and 17 fishing villages. (Courtesy: The News Minute)
The illegal roads are affecting migratory birds, crabs and sea turtles, and 17 fishing villages. (Courtesy: The News Minute)

These illegal roads affect our livelihood as there is no space left to keep our boats. These roads also encroach on our living spaces. Chennai Corporation is only concerned about large contracts to beautify the beach for the rich people.

K Saravanan, Fisherman

The fishermen were not even consulted before building these roads. We have taken pictures of these illegal roads. The Corporation says it will take action against the concerned people, but nothing has happened so far.

Pooja Kumar, Coastal Resource Centre

‘Wake Up’ Chennai Corporation

Roads at Kottivakam, Palavakkam and Neelangarai are not “approved roads”. (Courtesy: The News Minute)
Roads at Kottivakam, Palavakkam and Neelangarai are not “approved roads”. (Courtesy: The News Minute)

Chennai Corporation’s responses to Right to Information queries reveal that the roads at Kottivakam, Palavakkam and Neelangarai are not “approved roads”. But neither the Corporation nor the State Coastal Zone Management Authority has come forward to undo the illegality even in the face of repeated complaints.

According to documents gathered by the Coastal Research Centre, about 10 illegal sea side roads have been laid down by civic bodies.

The roads were tarred in 2003. These private bodies encroach on mass land.

Achuthan, Head, Save Chennai Beaches

Activists blame the corporation apathy. (Courtesy: The News Minute)
Activists blame the corporation apathy. (Courtesy: The News Minute)

Their ire at the Chennai Corporation evident as both fisherfolk and activists believe the corporation being a statutory body responsible for construction in Chennai, should have prohibited building illegal roads.

In almost all of these areas, these illegal roads have been accompanied by the construction of illegal buildings and resorts on the landward side of the road.

Pooja Kumar, Coastal Resource Centre

Akila Balu, part of the Student’s Sea Turtle Conservation Network said sea turtles make nests on the sea shores, and because of these roads they start walking towards these roads and end up either being eaten by dogs or crushed by cars. Most of the hatchlings also do not survive in these conditions. The number of dolphins and migratory birds have reduced over the last few years.

Crowding along the coast increases the vulnerability of the area to extreme weather events such as cyclone, affects the ecology and destroys livelihoods, but the Chennai Corporation seems to be napping.

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