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Kattupalli Port: Notice to TNPCB for ‘keeping public off hearing’


Chennai:

The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, before whom the plea came, ordered notice returnable within two weeks. The case has been listed for further hearing on February 5.

The petitioner P Ethiraj of Thirvallur contended that the proposed project involving a 14-fold increase in capacity of the port is bound to trigger erosion and eat into the shoreline to the north of the port, impacting seaside villages like Koraikuppam, Vairavankuppam, Arangankuppam, Thirumalai Nagar, Sembasipallikuppam, Lighthouse Kuppam and Goonankuppam.

The expansion will also breach the narrow strip of sand separating the Pulicat lagoon from the Bay of Bengal and thereby pose a threat to other inhabited portions and the Pulicat village itself. The Pulicat Bird sanctuary and the lagoon will also be severely impacted, the plea said. Under such circumstances, contrary to the mandate under EIA notification wherein such public hearing should be held at the project site or in its close proximity to ensure maximum attendance of people in the vicinity of the project, the TNPCB arbitrarily and illegally notified the public hearing at Minjur, at a distance of 20 kilometres from the project site, defeating the purpose of the public hearing.

While 20 km might not appear long if one were to travel on highways and in cars, the villages are rural, with limited transport services and bad roads. Expecting thousands of people to travel to Minjur if they wish to participate in the public hearing itself is illegal and contrary to the mandate of the law, the PIL said pointing out that Minjur, which had been illegally scheduled is not even within the study area considered in the EIA report for the proposed project.





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