Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why PM Modi must intervene to revoke clearance for Chennai airport’s second runway

We have all witnessed the destruction that was caused to Chennai and its surroundings in November/December 2015. The heavy deluge may have caused large quantities of water to be dumped. However, what is being overlooked is the large scale violation of Environmental Clearance (EC) by Airports Authority of India, that has contributed in a very big way for the destruction and loss of lives.

In November 2005, when there was a deluge and Chennai experienced 24cm of rain and water was released from Chembarambakkam lake, it flooded the Chennai airport, leaving only the main runway unaffected.
Low lying areas near the river banks were the worst affected.

I had earlier written, “The Chembarambakkam lake overflow is through the Adyar river. If the flow area is restricted by the secondary runway or blocked to a large extent, the flooding on the west, south and south-east areas is going to be extensive.”

The PWD department had declared the Flood Level as 11m.
AAI obtained EC for the expansion of the secondary runway bridge which states: “The Ministry reserves the right to revoke this clearance, if any of the conditions subsequently, deemed necessary for environmental protection, are not complied with.”

The EC also says that it was indicated by AAI that the bridge will be built 1.4m above the high flood line on the Adyar River, with a span of 200m x 415m.

PWD had indicated that the high flood line in 2005 was 11m above mean sea level. Hence, the top of the column (marked with red arrows in the following photos) should have been 11 + 1.4 = 12.4m.
The undulating levels of the top of the column, as visible from the last image, indicates that AAI has not followed a uniform height for the top of the columns, or the columns have sunk to varying depths.

The proposal from Airports Authority and what is covered by the EC, does not indicate any clearance for the high concrete walls built on either side of the runway bridge, along the Adyar river front.
23/08/16 Capt. Mohan Ranganathan/News Minute
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