Toxic air pollutants alarmingly high in Chennai: Survey

The residents of Chennai are breathing unhealthy air most of the time, claims a real-time, first of its kind citizen-led air quality monitoring network on Monday.

The data collected a daily average of the levels of the dangerous tiny particulate matter, known as PM 2.5, which lodge deep in human lungs, in Kuruvimedu (Vallur), Kodungaiyur, Anna Salai at Teynampet and Mugatwarakuppam in Ennore, ranging from unhealthy to hazardous for more than 80 per cent of the time.

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Health Experts and Citizens launch a network of low-cost air quality monitors for Chennai

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Chennai, 29 January 2018: Launching Chennai’s first citizen-led real time air quality monitoring network, founder and trustee of Delhi-based Lung Care Foundation Dr. Arvind Kumar said data from Chennai’s new “Atmos” monitors reveal that Chennai residents are breathing unhealthy air most days in a given month. The data revealed that between January 1 and January 23, daily averages of the levels of the dangerous PM2.5 in Kuruvimedu (Vallur), Kodungaiyur, Anna Salai at Teynampet and Mugatwarakuppam in Ennore ranged from unhealthy to hazardous for more than 80 percent of time. Air quality in Eldams Road near Teynampet was better with 10 days out of 16 daily measurements revealing air quality within the 24-hour Indian PM2.5 standard of 60 micrograms (ug)/m3. None of the locations had any day where air quality was within the more stringent World Health Organisation (WHO) 24-hour standard of 25 ug/m3. All locations recorded hazardous levels (above 180 ug/m3) of PM2.5 on 13 January, the day of Bhogi festival.

A joint project of Chennai-based Huma Lung Foundation and The Other Media’s Healthy Energy Initiative, and Mumbai-based UrbanSciences, the citizen air monitoring exercise will display its results on the website atmos.urbansciences.in/dashboard. The website will continuously report readings of PM2.5 from the five locations. Dr. Hisamuddin Papa, a leading pulmonologist who is leading the effort in Chennai, has installed one monitor atop his hospital in Teynampet, and has urged medical institutions and media houses to also invest in the Rs. 15,000 easy-to-operate air quality monitors.

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Coastal Cities and Sea Level Rise

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in a 2012 study titled Coastal Zones of India predicted that more than 3020 SqKM of productive land mass in Tamilnadu is prone to submergence due to rising seas in 100 years. Given this reality, the looming question remains – How prepared are Indian Cities to deal with Sea Level Rise (SLR)? While several cities across the world have begun developing plans to deal with the vulnerabilities associated with rising sea levels, Indian cities continue to grow precariously and often directly in harms way.

SLR is already underway. But it is popularly perceived as something that will occur in the future. This seminar aims to start a conversation about rising seas and ways to educate ourselves and our regulators about what is at stake, the need to put the safety of coastal infrastructure, communities and spaces in focus in planning the city’s future.

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CRZ Plan Should Consider Sea Level Rise: Fishers, Environmentalists urge GoTN

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Prepared in 2012, the SAC’s report predicts that for a 1 m sea level rise by 2100, sq.km of state highway, 85.66 km of railway infrastructure, 497.65 sq.km of cropland and 826 sq.km of aquifers will be submerged or degraded by tidal action. Another document – “Future Sea Level Rise: Assessment of Loss and Damage in 2015” – prepared for the State Planning Commission predicts that in Chennai alone, 10 lakh people and 144 sq.km of land are in danger of submergence due to SLR by 2050.

While the SAC’s report has been quietly filed away, the State Planning Commission’s report on Chennai has not been published despite its public importance.

As per the submergence maps contained in the SAC’s report, Chennai stands to lose 3.11 sq. km of critical industrial infrastructure, almost all in the Ennore region. NTECL Vallur, all of TANGEDCO’s power plants in Ennore, Kamarajar Port’s existing and proposed infrastructure inside the Creek, HPCL and BPCL’s oil terminals, the Minjur desalination plant and portions of CPCL’s petrochemical refinery in Manali will be swallowed by the sea. The groundwater resources of Araniyar-Kosasthalaiyar basin will be degraded due to tidal ingress. The entire IT corridor will be affected by sea level rise and most of the newly developed areas in Pallikaranai marshlands will be submerged under an advancing sea.

Industries and settlements in low-lying areas – such as the proposed 4000 MW Cheyyur plant and existing nuclear complex in Kalpakkam, the existing IL&FS plant and proposed petroleum refinery and Petrochemical Investment Region in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam, industrial installations and salt pans in Tuticorin and the Koodankulam nuclear reactors are located in vulnerable areas that are prone either to submergence or degradation due to tidal action.

“Climate change and sea level rise are real and present dangers. The CZMP offers an opportunity to plan for the decongesting of the coast. Other countries are doing that. We must start retreating from the sea and improving our natural safeguards against extreme sea-borne events,” said Pooja Kumar of Coastal Resource Centre.

Saravanan, whose village Urur Kuppam is already witnessing erosion, says “The CZMP should include a long-term housing plan for coastal communities as we are being squeezed by a seaward moving city and a land-ward moving tide.”

For More Information, contact – Pooja Kumar – 9791122180

Organized by – The Coastal Resource Centre, 92, 3rd Cross Street, Thiruvalluvar Nagar, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090

Forest dept wakes up, stays illegal construction near Pulicat

CHENNAI: Cracking the whip on rampant illegal constructions at the ecologically-sensitive Pulicat, the State forest department stayed a mega residential project that proposed to construct rows of villas on the sea front of the lake.

The action came following a series of reports in Express, including one on July 28 that detailed the real estate developments in the area, including the under-construction township coming up within the Pulicat sanctuary.K Geethanjali, wildlife warden, Chennai, told Express that a team has been sent to probe the allegation that construction was taking place within the Pulicat sanctuary boundaries.

“About 13 villages under local panchayat limits are part of Pulicat sanctuary, which is a no-development zone. Traditional fishermen in the area can carry out bona fide activities, but building permanent structures for commercial activities is prohibited. We issued notices and works have been stopped,” the official said.Read More »

Hydrocarbon Activities Have Harmed Delta Environment, Scientific Analysis Reveals

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FIELD CONTAMINATED BY ONGC’S OIL SPILL ON 30 JUNE 2017

CHENNAI. 09 August, 2017 — Scientific analysis of soil, groundwater and surface water samples from Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam confirm delta villagers’ fears that hydrocarbon operations by ONGC and CPCL are harming the environment. The study also concluded that ONGC had failed to observe international best practices in responding to the June 30 oil spill leading to spread of contamination to public water courses and the Velloor irrigation canal. All seven samples – including four soil, two surface water and one groundwater – are contaminated by hydrocarbons linked to oil extraction or refining. Releasing the results in Chennai, the Solidarity Group for Justice and Accountability, a state-wide alliance of individuals and people’s organisations, called for an independent third-party audit of the environmental impacts of ongoing hydrocarbon activities and remediation of contaminated sites at ONGC’s cost. They demanded for the release of jailed villagers, and prosecution of negligent ONGC, TNPCB and district officials.

The results also contradict claims made by the state government, and hydrocarbon majors like ONGC and CPCL.

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Samples were taken as per established scientific methodology

ONGC’s claim: Oil leaks and spills are promptly attended to; contaminated lands are fully restored.

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Is the law protecting India’s coasts being diluted?

TN activists carry out protest yatra In March the Central government proposed that the current Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) be replaced by the Marine Coastal Regulation Zone (MCRZ).

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Since the Central government approved the Enayam port project in Kanyakumari last year, there have been protests by the fisherfolk community claiming that it will affect more than 20,000 families in the area. Fishworkers now have another reason to worry as activists claim that the new Marine Coastal Regulation Zone (MCRZ) notification of the Central government will be diluting the coastal protection laws and making way for industrialisation.

To protest against dilution of coastal protection laws, coastal industrialisation and increasing prices of fishing accessories due to Goods and Services Tax (GST) four organisations–the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movement (NAPM), Peoples’ Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), Tamil Nadu Land Rights Federation (TNLRF) and All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP)–carried out a ‘yatra’ from July 10 to July 27, 2017 from Nerrody to Chennai.

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