TNHB has proposed to construct three 19-storeyed blocks with 304 residential units and a commercial complex. Environmental clearance (EC) for this project was sanctioned by the state-level environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) in January.
G Devarajan, a resident of Chennai, challenged this EC at the NGT southern zone citing environmental violations. So, the tribunal appointed a committee of officials from SEIAA, the Union environment ministry, the Chennai district collectorate and the public works department (PWD) to look into the issue.
This panel found that TNHB had encroached on the flood plain of river Cooum. As per revenue records, the river width upstream (near inner ring road bridge) and downstream ( Naduvankarai bridge) is 120-130 metres. But it was just 40 metres abutting the TNHB site, which is located between these bridges.
“This could possibly create flood surge and afflux during heavy flood and inundate the adjoining areas,” a report by this panel read.
A baby canal, which was constructed to carry sewage during the dry season, was also encroached by TNHB. Since this canal is encroached there was a possibility of sewage seeping into the soil strata of Cooum riverbed thereby polluting the groundwater table.
Also, the PWD had given its nod for the project on conditions that no construction material should be dumped near the river. But during the inspection, the panel found that this condition too was violated, and no barricading was done to stop sliding of earth excavated from the basement.
Besides this, TNHB was earlier directed to halt the construction of the project so that there was no obstruction to the proposed Chennai Port-Maduravoyal Elevated Corridor project by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) along the riverside. However, TNHB construction works are in progress till date violating the order.
So, the tribunal in its order on September 20 ordered TNHB to maintain status quo of the proposed construction for two weeks, except for debris removal.