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

Public hearing on revised master plan submitted by Adani for the development of Kattupalli port has been postponed, said the Thiruvallur District Administration.

The company has sought environmental clearance for a Rs 4,000 crore port and harbour project that is part of a Rs 53,400 crore master plan.

According to the district administration, the public hearing for the proposed Revised Master Plan Development of Kattupalli Port by Marine Infrastructure Developer Pvt Ltd, which is scheduled on January 22, 2021 has been postponed. This is because the likely presence of a larger number of members of the public at the venue could exacerbate Covid-19-related health hazards. The public hearing will be conducted at a later date which will be intimated in due course, said the administration.

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K Kanimozhi, member of Parliament (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 said 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 master plan 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 stake in Kattupalli port, owned by Marine Infrastructure Developer Private Limited, from Larsen and Toubro for Rs 1,950 crore in 2018.

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An Adani spokesperson said, “Adani Ports & SEZ, as a responsible corporate citizen, always strives to operate 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.”

“According to market projections, cargo throughput in the state will be more than 300 MTPA by 2025. Our vision of capacity addition in Tamil Nadu would just not bring the logistics costs down but also 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.” said the spokesperson.

During the construction phase, there will be largescale employment generation (around 500-1,000 workers) in the form of skilled, semi-skilled labourers and technical staff. During the operation phase, direct and indirect employment generation is expected to be around 1,500 to 4,500, respectively.

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