30 June, 2014
Thirty-nine scientists, including former vice-chairman of the National Knowledge Commission Padma Bhushan Prof. Pushp M. Bhargava, have urged the Tamil Nadu and Central governments to relocate the 4000 MW Cheyyur UMPP considering the ecologically sensitive nature of the current location. The scientists’ letter notes that both reports make a prima facie case that Cheyyur is inappropriate for locating a coal-fired power plant. It asks the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the Union Minister of Environment & Forests “to take appropriate action to relocate the power project to a site that is in line with the siting guidelines of the Ministry of Environment & Forests, and to declare the Cheyyur lagoon, its catchment and drainage as areas of conservation importance and give it strong legal protection.”
The scientists have based their recommendations on two scientific reports. A Bombay Natural History Society & Madras Naturalists Society report on the use of the Cheyyur lagoon by migratory birds describes the lagoon as an important habitat for 77 species of waterfowl, eight of which are among 42 species listed as endangered in India. A second report by Prof. D. Narasimhan and K. Devanathan of Madras Christian College documents the rich botanical diversity that will be lost if the power plant and its associated infrastructure come up in their current locations. This report documents the presence of rare plant species and healthy patches of fast disappearing forest types such as the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forests in areas earmarked for the power plant project.
Pointing to a climate-uncertain future with acute water scarcity and water-related conflicts predicted for India, the scientists warned that “locating a coal-fired power plant [at its current location] will not only harm the remarkable biodiversity but also compromise Cheyyur’s potential to serve as a supplier of fresh water for drinking and irrigation needs in the future.”
The BNHS/MNS report on migratory birds in Cheyyur lagoon can be downloaded:
The report by Prof. D. Narasimhan on botanical resources of the Cheyyur region can be downloaded:
For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman 9444082401
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