The Corporation of Chennai and suburban coastal local bodies have laid 5.8 km of illegal roads between Thiruvanmiyur and Muttukadu, according to a report released by the Coastal Resource Centre. The report documents 10 illegal sea side roads laid by the civic bodies. The report was released today at a press conference attended by fisherfolk representatives from Kottivakkam, Thiruvanmiyur, Urur Kuppam and Srinivasapuram along with members of citizen group ‘Save Chennai Beaches’.
“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” says Pooja Kumar of the Coastal Resource Centre.
These activities rob fisherfolk of livelihood and living spaces, and affect the natural ecology of the coast. Crowding and increase of built-up areas near the waterline increases the area’s vulnerability to natural disasters such as cyclones, and aggravates salinity intrusion. The report was released even as the Corporation of Chennai is pushing for a multi-crore beach beautification project that is opposed by the city’s fishing communities.
The report was prompted by the sudden increase in roads being laid in and near the intertidal zone. What begins as a kuchha road made using red earth and construction debris quickly transforms into a pucca asphalted road with streetlights and other amenities. Chennai Corporation’s responses to Right to Information queries reveal that the roads at Kottivakkam, 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 in the face of repeated complaints.
“The State Coastal Zone Management Authority is a rubber-stamping organisation. Their actions and inactions have hurt the fishing community badly. Meanwhile, the Corporation is only concerned about doling out large contracts to “beautify” the beach for the rich people. They are not concerned about our lives and livelihoods,” said K. Saravanan, a fisherman from Urur Kuppam and one of the report’s authors.
Management of construction and demolition waste is the responsibility of the Corporation of Chennai. In spite of repeated orders from the National Green Tribunal, dumping of construction debris on the beaches, especially by the Corporation, is an ongoing activity.
For more information, contact
Saravanan – 9176331717
Pooja Kumar — 9791122180
Coastal Resource Centre – a program of The Other Media
No. 92, Thiruvalluvar Nagar 3rd Cross, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090