CHENNAI: The State government should strive to obtain the status of a designated protected site under the Ramsar Convention for the Pallikaranai Marshland, said senior advocate PS Raman in the Madras High Court on Monday.
The marshland, the only urban wetland in Chennai city, situated about 30 km inland of the Bay of Bengal, is unable to provide its ecological services and in fact, it emits more carbon-di-oxide and methane than it absorbs, said Raman, who has been appointed as amicus curiae in a PIL taken up suo motu, before a division bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad.
In his preliminary report, Raman, after inspecting the marshland with Ramya Roopa, an expert in bio-diversity in wetlands, the Chennai district forest officer and the local revenue officials, suggested to the government to shift the dump-yard to another appropriate location, on a priority basis. Until an alternative site is identified, it should take steps to reduce the area of the existing dump yard and not extend further, while clearing the existing dump sites.
The Forest department had already recommended to the government to explore the possibility of installing a suitable treatment plant. The Corporation should examine the implementation of appropriate municipal solid waste management strategies to minimise the adverse effects of garbage disposal, the report said.
The request made by the Forest department regarding the transfer of the unutilised 100 hectares from the Corporation, as early as in 2012, is yet to be acted upon, the report pointed out. The land should be handed over at the earliest to enable starting conservation activities.
To tackle the threat of encroachments, a vigilance monitoring committee with representation from the registration authorities, Chennai Municipal Corporation, Forest Department, revenue authorities and planning authorities should be constituted to ensure that no further encroachments take place.
Raman has also inspected the Kazhuveli wetland, the second largest brackish water wetland in Tindivanam range of Villupuram forest division. One of the most productive life supporting systems, it offers innumerable ecosystem services including flood water storage and control. He suggested that the deficiencies in the current licensing and regulation of shrimp culture need to be addressed. Shrimp farms operating without licences should be stopped.
Socio-ecological environment of the location of the shrimp farm needs to be considered while granting licences. Steps should be taken to monitor and ensure that no poaching activities take place at the Kazhuveli wetland. Instead of merely imposing a penalty on offenders, imprisonment should be imposed as provided for under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act,1972, the report said.The bench posted the matter to August 29 to enable the government to file its counter.
‘Kazhuveli needs to be protected too’
A representation should be made by the State Forest department to the Centre to designate the area of the Kazhuveli wetlands as a protected site under the Ramsar Convention and as a bird sanctuary, the report said