Adyar Creek water gets
With lack of transparency
over development plans
The Government has announced that the first phase of the Adyar Poonga restoration will be completed by December 2010. This will comprise 58 acres of the total 358 acres designated as the Adyar Creek. The work is being carried out by the Pitchandikulam Forest Consultants, Auroville, an organisation involved in eco-restoration projects. The Government has also declared that this will be an “environment education” centre. The planned park has come in for a lot of praise in sections of the media recently, but Madras Musings learns that all’s not as smooth as it is being made out to be. In fact, there are serious concerns.
The High Court, based on whose decision the Park project was announced, had stipulated the setting up of a Monitoring Committee which included, apart from Government officials, representatives of the Consumer Action Group also, which organisation had first brought to the notice of the Court and the public the continued neglect of the area. The Court had also directed that periodic review meetings of the Committee be held to monitor the progress and quality of the work being carried out in the proposed Park. However it transpires that the Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited (TNUIFSL), which is the nodal agency for the development of the Park, has not called for Monitoring Committee meetings for over six months now. Consequently, non-governmental representatives on the Committee are in the dark over what is happening at the Creek.
The CAG had also asked the TNUIFSL for details of what kind of flora are being planted in the Park. The selection of proper vegetation is crucial for the survival and regeneration of the wetlands. However, this information has also not been forthcoming. This has naturally made environment activists concerned over what is the work in progress. A casual visit to the site at this point of time merely reveals a lot of composting work going on.
There are other concerns as well. The fate of the remaining 300 acres of the Creek is still a question mark. The Government had put out for tender the task of developing a master plan for this area and the contract has been awarded to IL&FS Eco Smart, an organisation which, according to its website, focuses on environment management solutions. The site does not mention any of the projects the company has worked on.
Environmentalists have always expressed concern over the divided development of the 58 and the remaining 300 acres as they have felt that sustainability of the Park will always depend on access to the waters of the Creek. Much will therefore hinge on how the second phase of the development, namely that of the 300 acres, takes place. At present there is no information on this. What is the mandate given to this organisation? What kind of development is planned in this area? There is no information on this.
Another area of concern is the multiplicity of agencies that claim to be working on Adyar Creek and its environs. The proposed Creek restoration may be affected by the plans for the Circular Corridor which, if reports are anything to go by, will impinge directly on both banks of the river. There is also talk of a riverside park coming up by the side of the river. Work on building up the embankment towards this end was begun, then given up suddenly,and restarted again. The studied silence of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority over the multiple plans is most puzzling.
What emerges from all this is that the Adyar Creek Project, like many such plans, is being conducted in a hush-hush fashion with no scope for a public debate on what exactly is planned for the area. It is high time the Government made its plans public and let everyone know where the Creek and its environs are headed.