Tamil Nadu Environment Minister- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Acknowledging that Tamil Nadu is currently standing at a crossroads of the climate crisis, Environment Minister Meyyanathan Siva V said that the DMK government was aiming for environmental sustainability and creating green infrastructure.

Coastal erosion is a problem. What are the measures taken by the government to mitigate it?

We have finalized the Shoreline Protection Management Action Plan. If we take up only the gray-hard structures, there will be reduction in fisheries habitat and biodiversity. Hard shoreline structures like seawall prevent natural marsh migration and may create seaward erosion.

Hence, green infrastructure or the living shorelines were included in the Action Plan to improve water quality, provide fisheries habitat, increase biodiversity and promote recreation apart from being more resilient against storms.

Marshes and oyster reefs act as natural barriers to waves. One square kilometer of salt marsh stores the carbon equivalent of 1.11 lakh litres of gas annually. So, every possible effort would be taken to protect the shoreline of Tamil Nadu by taking up the green coastal infrastructures. A budgetary allocation of `233.85 crore was made.

Unlike other departments, environmental projects require long-term vision and are financially draining. How does the government mobilise funds when the economy is stressed?

This is not the job of one department or state government alone. We are strengthening our Climate Studio to generate robust databases and regional climate scenarios that will assist in micro-level policy planning. Work is being decentralised.

There are international funding organizations from which support is being sought for implementing State and local-level adaptation measures. We floated Tamil Nadu Green Climate Company to forge partnerships and promote investments.

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board was in a turmoil after the previous chairman was booked on charges of corruption. How is the board being revamped to bring the trust back?

First thing, we decided to issue Consent to Operate and the renewal to the industries as a block instead of issuing consent every year under the Ease of Doing Business. The board also introduced the concept of auto renewal of consent for Red (small) and all Orange and Green category industries.

Now, things are more transparent. On the development front, the TNPCB will be improving air quality monitoring, proposing to establish 25 new Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Systems during 2022-23 in the district headquarters and million-plus cities.

Dump yards with legacy waste in populated areas are a cause of concern. Recent fire in Perungudi landfill was a grim reminder of the danger they pose. How is the government trying to solve the issue?

Solid Waste Management Rules mandate local bodies to carry out bio-mining of old dumpsites and reclamation of land. Accordingly, the bio-mining of legacy waste has been initiated by local bodies in 144 dumpsites in the State.

Work at 49 sites has been completed. In the remaining 95 sites, biomining is on. Perungudi and Kodungaiyur landfills located close to Pallikaranai marshland are our priority sites. The area will be cleared at the earliest and handed over to the forest department.

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