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Ennore coal power plant and Fisherfolk protest, north Chennai, India

A sacrifice zone with coal power plants, chemical industries, a port and a landfill. Fisherfolk defend the commons (the Poromboke), against pollution and encroachments affecting their livelihood.


North of Chennai (Tamil Nadu, India) there is an industrial 'sacrifice zone' called Ennore. It is situated on a peninsula and is bounded by the Korttalaiyar River, Ennore creek and the Bay of Bengal. Three state-owned coal thermal power plants are under operation, next to the Ennore Port where the coal comes from. The site hosts several other polluting chemical industries, including painting, fertilizers, cement and pharmaceutical ones, as well as a landfill.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ennore coal power plant and Fisherfolk protest, north Chennai, India
State or province:Tamil Nadu
Location of conflict:Ennore (Chennai)
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Chemical industries
Ports and airport projects
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Ennore Port, officially renamed Kamarajar Port Limited, is located on the Coromandel Coast about 24 km north of Chennai Port, Chennai, it is the 12th major port of India, and the first port in India which is a public company. The Kamarajar Port Limited is the only corporatised major port and is registered as a company. The Centre holds a stake of about 68 per cent in the Kamarajar Port Limited and the remaining 32 per cent is held by the Chennai Port Trust. The port has been able to attract an investment of Rupees 26,000 million by private entrepreneurs on various terminals. Kamarajar Port Limited, designed as Asia's energy port, is the first corporatised port in India and has only 86 employees. Envisaged being a satellite port to decongest and improve the environmental quality at the bustling Chennai Port, Kamarajar Port Limited is evolving itself into a full-fledged port with the capacity to handle a wide range of products. With a permissible draught of 13.5 m, the port handled a total volume of 11 million tonnes in 2010–11, up by 2.86 per cent from the previous year. Coal for the power stations comes through the ports and is transported by truck or conveyor belts.

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Project area:40,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:5000
Company names or state enterprises:Ennore Port, officially renamed Kamarajar Port Limited (Public company) from India - Project proponent
Tamil Nadu Energy Company Ltd from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Tamil Nadu
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The Coastal Resource Centre of The Other Media
Fisherfolk villages
Mukadhwarakuppam Kadal Meenavar Cooperative Union
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageUnknown
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Trade unions
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Soil erosion
Other Environmental impactsContamination and "reclamation" of areas where fly ash is dumped
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Fisherfolk have not been able to stop the projects, more coal power plants will be built. There is an appeal to the Green Tribunal.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Coastal Regulation Zone
[click to view]

Ask NGT to Save Ennore Creek. The degraded state of the Ennore Creek is only the symptom; our corrupt, inept and unaccountable regulators are the disease. 13 Jan. 2017, petition to Green Tribunal
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

"The impact of water pollution on the socio-economic status of the stakeholders of Ennore Creek,

Bay of Bengal (India): Part I"

by V. Shanthi (1) and N. Gajendran (2)

(1) University of Madras, Dept. of Economics, Chellammal Women’s College, Guindy, Chennai-600 005, India.

(2) University of Madras, C.A.S. in Botany

Indian Journal of Science and Technology, Vol.2 No 3 (Mar. 2009)
[click to view]

Ennore Creek (Wikipedia)
[click to view]

"Remember this much. The sea will eat you" by Nityanand Jayaraman published at Grist Media on November 26, 2014.
[click to view]

“Ennore fishermen protest ‘destruction of mangroves’” by Sruthisagar Yamunan published at The Hindu on 31st December 2015.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

TM Krishna sings to arouse people into preventing Chennai's environmental degradation. 'Poromboke is not for you, nor is it for me. It is for the community, and it is for the city. It is for the earth.'
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Federico Demaria
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2202
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