Soon, Rs 200 crore for restoration of Pallikaranai
Central govt issues no-objection letter after TN proposes to get Green Climate Fund aid
CHENNAI: The Union environment ministry has approved Tamil Nadu’s proposal to get financial support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to restore Pallikaranai marshland in Chennai. The GCF is a new global fund created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to support developing countries’ efforts in combating climate change.
Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Forests, confirmed to TNIE that the State government received a no-objection letter from the Union government. “As per the procedure, we submit a proposal, which is vetted by an accredited agency, to the Union ministry. It then examines it and gives a no-objection letter for the State to forward the proposal to GCF. Our proposal was vetted by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, and has now been sent to GCF.”
Sahu said the government would receive little over Rs 200 crore, which will be used for scientific eco-restoration of Pallikaranai marshland, which is key for the city’s overall well-being — be it groundwater recharge or flood mitigation. “The proposal includes removal of invasive and introduction of natives species; plugging of sewage inlets; and initiating measures to declare the marshland as a bird sanctuary and Ramsar Site.”
Environment Minister Meyyanathan Siva V told TNIE the government is committed to protect all important wetlands in the State. “Chief Minister MK Stalin launched the Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission precisely for this. To restore Pallikaranai marshland, the biggest challenge is the dumpyard. The land it’s on will be retrieved and handed to the forest department. Likewise, we plan to clear legacy waste in 143 dumpyards across the State and restore the areas. For instance, Vellalore dumpyard in Coimbatore is spread over 650 acres, and just 1 km away, the previous government constructed a bus stand under the smart city project.”
According to research done by the Care Earth Trust in 1991, the Pallikaranai marsh covered 2,450 ha in 1991, but by 2015, it lost out to various developments, including a railway line, and covered just 600 ha. Despite its reduced area, the marsh acts as a sponge that stores the heavy monsoon rains and releases water in the dry months.
Last year, the Madras High Court ordered the environment and forest department to prevent non-forest activities in the marshland. It also passed an order to relocate the dumpyards in the marsh, and told the government to reclaim unutilised land allotted to government industries and institutions.