Scrap the Murthikuppam Port project: AGG submitted memorandum to Lt. Governor!

Sand Dune…
Beautiful Beach..Sand Dune…
Fishing Boats in the Sea Shore…
1974 Survey Map shows the Sand Dune…
Picture taken after 5 days of the Tsunami shows the Sand Dune..
Satellite Picture shows the Sand Dune…

The Alliance for Good Governance (AGG) representatives Mr.Probir Banarjee (PondyCAN), Mr. C.H.Balamohanan (Pondicherry People’s Protection Committee), Mr. G.Sugumaran (Federation for People’s Rights -FPR), Mr. S. Ramachandran (Pondicherry Science Forum), Mr.Mohanasundaram (INSAF), Mr. S. Sathiamurthy (councilor, Mathi Krishnapuram)  met the Puducherry Lt. Governor Shri. Iqbal Singh on 1oth November 2010 at 1.00 PM and submitted a memorandum to scrap the Murthikuppam Port project.

His Excellency, the Lt Governor of Puducherry

Subject: Appeal to stop the man-made disaster in the making in Pondicherry – the Murthikuppam harbour at Puducherry.

Your Excellency,

We had brought to your notice, vide our letter dated 22nd October 2010, that the Murthikuppam harbour is a man-made disaster in the making. The Chief Secretary had promised to look into the problems when the matter was discussed with him on 30th Oct 2010 and has thereafter discussed the matter with the Special Secretary, Environment and the PWD Chief Engineer. A delegation of farmers, members of water users associations of that area and NGOs met the Special Secretary Environment in the presence of the PWD Chief Engineer on 8th Nov 2010 and informed him that the Mullodai channel, which is a fresh water estuary, was never connected to the sea and that the fishermen never parked their boats in the canal as falsely claimed by PWD in their project proposal. It was also explained that if the sand dunes are cut and the Mullodai channel connected to the sea around 400 acres of rich agricultural land on which about 15000 families depend will be destroyed and the network of water tanks which existed from the Chola period will all turn saline. The Special Secretary Environment directed the PWD Chief Engineer to immediately stop the work until the whole project is reviewed. In spite of that the PWD is continuing with the work. We would like to bring to Your Excellency’s notice the following:

  • The PWD has taken up the construction of the fish landing facility, instead of the Fisheries Dept, under the false claim that “During the recent Tsunami on 26th Dec’04, mouth of the link canal was blocked with sand dunes and hence the fishermen could not bring their boats safely to the land” (Annexure I, Para 1). Maps enclosed in our earlier letter to your Excellency clearly show that there has never been any opening from Mullodai channel to the sea and this is confirmed by the people of that area.
  • PWD has not conducted any studies and by-passed public consultations with their false claim “Since this work is only removing the blockage caused by the Tsunami and related improvements no EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) was conducted” (Annexure I, Para 5).
  • PWD has falsely stated “The construction of piled jetty will not cause erosion in the northern side so the question of mitigation of the erosion does not arise” (Annexure I, Para 9&10) even after knowing that the ongoing destruction of the coastal villages along Pondicherry-Tamil Nadu coastline was caused by the present harbour at Thengathittu. When the govt has no funds to mitigate the devastation caused by the existing harbour, on what basis is the construction of a new harbour of the same size being taken up?
  • Concerns regarding the grounds of approval by MoEF and violations of the conditions laid down (Annexure II):
  • The MoEF approval has been given based on the letters from PCZMA (Annexure II, Para 1) which shows that the PCZMA has not exercised due diligence in evaluating the impacts of this project before approving it. It only shows their incompetence and lack of seriousness in protecting the coastline of Pondicherry.
  • No Marine ecology monitoring is being carried out during the dredging operations (Annexure II, (A) Specific conditions, Para v).
  • The project will not only cause ingress of saline water into ground water as in the case of the present harbour but also in all the water tanks connected to the Mullodai channel (Annexure II, (A) Specific conditions, Para x)
  • The project has been commissioned without getting requisite water supply and electricity to the project (Annexure II, (A) Specific conditions, Para xi)
  • PWD has already destroyed part of the sand dunes (Annexure II, B General Conditions, Para vi) which is confirmed by the villagers. If this project is allowed to continue it will totally destroy the sand dunes which have saved this village during Tsunami while there was heavy casualty in coastal villages just 2 km away in Cuddalore.
  • No funds has been earmarked for environment protection measures and put in a separate account (Annexure II, B General conditions, Para ix)
  • We would also like to know if PWD has informed the Regional Office at Bangalore and the Ministry of Environment the date of start of the Land Development Work (Annexure II, B General Conditions, Para xv).
  • This work is a violation as MoEF has written to PCZMA to stop construction of seawalls and groynes until Anna University completes the study of the Pondicherry-Tamil Nadu coastline (Annexure III).

If this new harbour is constructed the entire coast to the north will get devastated in the same way as is happening due to the present harbour at Thengathittu. Moreover the accretion of sand in the south will block the mouth of the Pennayar River which will cause flooding of the hinterland.

A cost-benefit analysis and environmental / social impact assessment will reveal that this project is a disaster. In spite of attending the consultation meetings for the protection and restoration of this fragile coastline and being fully aware that this coast has turned into an erosion hotspot, PWD is continuing to take up such catastrophic projects. What is also difficult to understand is that PWD has spent huge sums of money in tank rehabilitation programs in this area and created water users associations for the protection of the ancient water systems and this project will completely destroy all the good work. The matter has been taken up with the government of Tamil Nadu as it is on the border of Cuddalore district and they have not been consulted.

Considering that Tsunami rehabilitation funds are being used to make people more vulnerable, destroying fresh water, a unique eco system and livelihoods of rural communities in Pondichery and Tamil Nadu we appeal to Your Excellency to immediately scrap the project and institute an enquiry as to why PWD has taken up this project on false grounds.

Thanking Your Excellency

Warm regards,


Copy to:

1) Hon’ble Home Minister, New Delhi.

2) Hon’ble Minister of State for Environment and Forests, New Delhi Bahoor Commune

3) Central Vigilance Commission, New Delhi.

4) Dr Senthil Vel, MoEF, New Delhi.

5) Chief Secretary, Puducherry.

6) Sp Secretary Environment, Puducherry

7) Chief Engineer, PWD, Puducherry


Annexure I – Response by PWD to RTI.

Annexure II – Approval by MoEF.

Annexure III – Letter from MoEF to PCZMA, Pondicherry.

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