ECR Extension: ECR extension faces new hurdles due to environmental violations, delays | Chennai News
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ECR Extension: ECR extension faces new hurdles due to environmental violations, delays | Chennai News

ECR expansion faces new obstacles

Chennai: New challenges have emerged ahead of the expansion of East Coast Road (ECR), environmental activists AND fishermen in the area presenting new evidence National Green Tribunal (NGT) alleging violation of environmental regulations.
Petitioner K Saravanan submitted photographs suggesting that the Indian National Highways Authority (NHAI) illegal dumping of soil and quarry debris in the ecologically sensitive intertidal zones of Odaiyur Lake, situated between Kalpakkam and Marakkanam.
According to the petitioner, the area falls within the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) and the rules prohibit any filling activity in these zones due to their unique habitat and biological importance, particularly seagrass beds and intertidal mudflats. Saravanan said the NHAI’s action contradicted its own status report filed in April, which stated that water flow would be obstructed only on one side of the lagoon. However, recent evidence suggests that both sides of the lagoon were blocked, severely restricting tidal exchange. This restriction, Saravanan said, deprives the lagoon of essential nutrients and sediments carried by the tides, threatening the ecosystem.
In its response, the NHAI admitted that the construction of the cofferdam was planned in two phases to ensure free flow of natural tidal water, but the private company entrusted with the task took up work on the northern side without realising the impact and was advised to partially stop the work. Accordingly, on July 3, the NGT directed the NHAI to remove the cofferdam on the northern side, which had already been constructed, before completing the work on the southern side.
In particular, the Mamallapuram-Puducherry section ECR Extension It has already faced several delays due to disputes between the state and union governments. It was only in 2022 that it was decided to widen the road into a four-lane expressway. D Srirangan, a resident of Kottivakkam, said the ongoing environmental issues are complicating the project’s already troubled history. “We hope that the NHAI will resolve these issues quickly, especially since the number of accidents on this stretch is on the rise.”

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