Pazhaverkadu to return to its “roots” with one million mangroves

Bangalore-based IT company Mphasis and NGO United Way plan to regenerate lakhs of mangrove trees on the shores of Pulicat
Pulicat has lost much of its mangroves under developmental pressures
Pulicat has lost much of its mangroves under developmental pressures

Pazhaverkadu, the beautiful seashore town in the outskirts of Chennai also known as Pulicat, can now look forward to growing back some of its green roots.

Mphasis, a Bengaluru based tech firm -- in collaboration with NGO United Way Bengaluru (UWB) -- has launched an initiative for the restoration of Mangrove forests in the town on World Wetlands Day, Feb 2.

The town, which lies to the north of Chennai, was once home to a vibrant Mangrove vegetation, which is supposed to be behind its unique name: Pazhaverkadu means the “jungle of roots”.

The scheme will be part of UWB‘s broader initiative to restore nearly one million mangroves in the region by 2027. It also contains measures to enhance the production of shrimp and fish species that serve as a source of livelihood for the people in the region.

Pulicat hosts India’s second largest brackish waters - the Pulicat lake, spanning 720 sq. km, and once boasted of vibrant and lively mangrove vegetation.

But now, "the lake's depth has reduced from 3.8m to 2m due to the large-scale destruction of the mangrove vegetation due to human-caused and factors. Currently, the area is left with patches of mangrove vegetation; hence these efforts are aimed at its restoration," Mphasis said.

Mangroves, the beautiful green umbrellas with thick roots that run into the depths of water, are key players in maintaining the climate equilibrium. They prevent extreme weather conditions and their dense roots shield the land from natural disasters. It also helps stabilize shorelines.  

Mangroves are also highly effective as carbon absorbers. A mangrove forest absorbs five times more carbon dioxide than a tropical upland forest of the same area. Moreover, they provide habitat for diverse marine and terrestrial species. 

Unfortunately, humans have failed these green saviors. Most of the mangroves near towns and cities in India have been cleared under the pressures of development.

They are also facing threat globally. The State of the World's Mangrove 2022 report suggests that only 147,000 sq km of mangrove forests remain in the whole world. 

Mphasis said it hopes that its contribution will help in addressing climate change to some degree: “As our commitment to environmental preservation deepens, it becomes increasingly apparent the pivotal role mangroves play in carbon sequestration, coastal protection, and habitat preservation."

This is not the first time the tech firm is holding hands with UWBe. This collaboration has driven several initiatives aimed at protecting the environment and restoring the greenery. 

As a part of the group’s  'One Billion Drops' campaign, they constructed 1,300 percolation wells for rainwater harvesting with the potential to conserve 166 million liters with each filling. 

Similarly, a foundation for a thriving forest has been established at the Doddasaggere Botanical Garden in Tumkur, Karnataka, comprising 100,000 tree saplings of diverse species. 

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The New Indian Express