The government’s plan to construct training walls to lend stability to the mouth of the Pulicat lake for free flow of vessels has run into trouble. The proposal was “dropped” at a meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests related to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) last month.
According to the minutes of the meeting, the committee observed that the project, in all likelihood, might alter the entire flow of the lake. The ecological consequence of opening the mouth could lead to massive sea water ingression changing the nature of the lake — a national as well as internationally significant wetland.
According to the ₹27 crore proposal, the length of north training wall would be 160 m and the south training wall 150 m. The depth would be 4.5 m. It would require capital dredging and also construction of two short groynes. The objective was to provide access to vessels of fishermen to engage in traditional fishing in all seasons. It was also meant to increase fishing activity in the lake and support fishermen’s livelihood.
Lot at stake
As the project area falls in CRZ I and IV as per the demarcation map, the EAC discussed the proposal.
The committee was informed that the proposal was in the ‘B’ category, to be dealt with by State Environment Impact Assessment Authority but since SEIAA of Tamil Nadu was not in existence, the Centre had taken it up. The committee was also informed by one of the members that there was an unresolved dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu with the South Zone Council of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The committee observed that since capital dredging was involved, the project required environmental clearance under EIA Notification, 2006, in addition to CRZ clearance.