Residents of areas in Adyar basin and civil society groups have written an open letter to the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority (TNSDMA) against proceeding with plans for the proposed international airport in Parandur, Kancheepuram.
The letter appealed to the State to reconsider building the airport due to an increased disaster risk posed by the proposed developments to the downstream areas of the Adyar river, and particularly to the tail-end reaches, floodplains and low-lying areas along the river. Coming on the heels of a protest by farmers in Ekanapuram and other surrounding villages, the open letter said the airport construction would disproportionately affect vulnerable groups such as the poor, women, and differently-abled.
The letter highlighted that the proposed 4,500-acre airport might not only affect unbuilt agricultural wetlands and poromboke waterbodies on the site, but also have implications for Chennai city as the likely mega commercial activity to follow the airport might warrant a stormwater micro-drain network and rainwater harvesting structures on site.
The lands that will be urbanised for the airport are on Adyar river’s 500 sq km southwestern catchment, the same that drains into the Adyar river through Manimangalam, Perungalathur, Tambaram, Mudichur, and Varadarajapuram, the letter noted. “Micro-drains are only as effective as the capacity of major drains — Adyar in this case — to receive their discharge,” it said, adding that a project that proposes to pave over eris and wetlands cannot be compensated for by human-made rainwater harvesting structures.
While the flood carrying capacity of the Adyar river is only about 2,038 m3/s (72,000 cusecs), during the 2015 floods, the flow from the southwestern catchment, which includes the Parandur airport site, alone contributed 3000 m3/s to the Adyar river, the letter noted, referring to a study of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Water Research at the Indian Institute of Science.
“Increasing the built-up area and impermeable land-cover over a 18 sq km site in a river basin that is already under severe hydrological stress is a recipe for disaster,” the letter signed by 30 people said.
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