Coastal commons, including mangroves, salt pans, sandy beaches and tidal wetlands are increasingly being converted into land for real estate or industrial purposes or degraded by pollution from industrial and municipal sources. However, Coastal commons provide livelihoods to lakhs of fisherfolk, and are also an important natural infrastructure that protect us from storm surges, tidal waves, flooding and decreasing ground water supplies, they should be perceived as climate sanctuaries.
The crucial role of a climate sanctuary is inherent to Ennore Creek, the adjoining Kosasthalaiyar River and its margins in the north of Chennai. Still, industrial encroachments have vastly reduced the Creek’s capacity and biodiversity by massive deposit of fly ash from thermal power plants, the disposal of sewage, the construction of ash ponds, flyovers and conveyor belts and the destruction of salt pans and mangroves. Consequently, not only Ennore’s fisher folks are losing their livelihoods and suffer from diseases due to the sewage, also the North of Chennai is heavily affected by floods, droughts and cyclones.
Moreover, industrial implications not only refer to climate: The impact of thermal power plants in Ennore and petrochemical industries in Manali on the health of Chennai’s residents is severe as the density of pollutants in the air is up to five times higher than the maximum of a healthy air according to the international Air Quality Index standard: Mostly affected are marginalized communities centered around the industries, but also posh areas like Poe’s Garden have an unhealthy air quality.
By air samplings, examinations on health impacts and mapping of the widely spread wetlands of Ennore Creek along with its encroachments, the Coastal Resource Centre underlines the environmental and social importance of the creek and creates a science based opposition to the state plans of enlarging the industrial zone.