The Water Song: TM Krishna on Coal Ravaged Ennore

TM Krishna's Karnatik Song Spotlights Coal-ravaged Ennore as Environmental Crime Scene

Art activism just pushed another boundary. Set in the toxic dystopian waterscapes of the Ennore Creek, a new Karnatik music video produced by a Chennai-based environmental justice collective shows how coal fired power plants have damaged the creek. Ennore in North Chennai houses three coal-fired thermal power plants, two ports and is hemmed in the south by the Manali petrochemical industrial estate. The region is slotted for a major makeover with state and central government plans to convert the area's sprawling wetlands into industrial estates, container yards, more coal-fired power plants and exclusive townships.

Stretching from the Pulicat Lake in the North to the Manali marshlands in the south, Chennai's largest surviving wetland complex drains two rivers into the Bay of Bengal.

Spotlighting the pollution ravaged Ennore Creek as an environmental crime scene, the Chennai Poromboke Paadal conceived by Chennai environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman and featuring T.M. Krishna has many firsts to its name.

It is the first time Carnatic is sung in colloquial Madras Tamil. It is the first Carnatic song to deal with a contemporary environmental music, and the first time the word "Poromboke" -- a word associated with the impure, the margins and the worthless -- has been celebrated as the central subject of a Carnatic song. The video is the second popular campaign video put out by the Justice Rocks Initiative of Vettiver Collective. The first one, also shot by the Poromboke director Rathindran Prasad, is Kodaikanal Won't ft. Sofia Ashraf which went viral.

Speaking at the launch of the video, noted Tamil writer Perumal Murugan said: "Poromboke is a public space, the property of the entire community. The word, which once referred to shared use commons such as grazing lands and waterbodies has now degraded in colloquial Tamil to refer to things or places that are worthless."

The devastation left by Chennai floods and the Vardah Cyclone, and the disaster to come in the form of heat waves and water scarcity are all a result of how society has abused its Poromboke commons.

Chennai Poromboke Paadal had about 70,000 views in 48 hours, and is probably the first Carnatic video to trend on youtube.

The song ends with an appeal to the National Green Tribunal to help save the Ennore Creek.

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