CHENNAI : The Union Environment Ministry is considering the approval of an adaptive management plan for the Pallikaranai marshland, according to the ministry sources.
The management plan, prepared by Chennai-based NGO called Care Earth, has been sent to the Union Ministry by the state department and is pending for approval, which is expected to come any time soon after procedural clearances. The plan calls for a restoration of the marsh by regulating the solid waste disposal facility, which has been slowly eating into the marsh area, and regulation of developmental activities.
The management plan calls for the establishment of a coordinating umbrella agency to overcome the problems arising out of the multiple ownership of the marsh area. At present, the ownership of the marsh is shared by the Public Works, Forests and Revenue departments making conservation a steep challenge.
“There has never been any plan of action. Exploitation continues unbridled due to lack of coordination between the agencies,” says Jayashree Vencatesan of Care Earth, who has been at the forefront of the Save Pallikaranai March Movement for more than a decade now.
Further, the action plan calls for the preparation of another detailed management plan outlaying sediment studies and hydrological assessments and on ground demarcation of marsh areas.
The detailed plan should prepare pollution assessment, biodiversity assessment and habitat zonation maps so that zone specific interventions can be carried out, notes the plan.
“The major threats that the plan addresses are the regulation of solid waste management and sewage disposal facilities that are encroaching over the marshland,” says Jayashree.
The existing sewage treatment and disposal facility for South Chennai is located on the immediate periphery and within the Pallikaranai Marsh.
A lesser known fact is that the large scale sewage treatment facility of the Alandur Municipality is also located on the premises.
“It has been established by a number of studies and the High Level Committee on Pallikaranai Marsh that the facility is not only inadequate but is also functioning in an ad hoc manner with improper procedures of discharge,” notes the report.
“But Pallikaranai, unlike many other eco-sensitive regions, has a lot of opportunities which the management plan has focussed on,” says Jayashree. “For instance, the commercial development in the area is primarily from the IT sector on the IT Corridor, which is largely a non-polluting one and prefers a green ambience. So, creating awareness amongst them can actually work in favor of the marshland, which is why the action plan also stresses on the creation of a wetland centre and nature-based learning and recreation systems,” she added.