Thoothukudi corporation transforms dumpyard into urban forest, boosts green cover

The dumpyard houses a sewage treatment plant of 28 MLD capacity, and a solid waste segregation and shredding unit, which processes nearly 200 tonnes of waste.
Thoothukudi corporation
Thoothukudi corporation (Photo | Website)

THOOTHUKUDI: The Thoothukudi Corporation was lauded for its efforts towards restoring a vast area of thorny seemai karuvelam (Prosopis Juliflora) trees at its dump yard and increasing the green cover by planting more than 2.10 lakh saplings of native species.

It may be noted that the United Nation’s theme for World Environment Day, observed on June 5, is ‘Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resilience.’

Four years ago, the dump yard, spread over 578 acres along the Tharuvaikulam road, was full of seemai karuvelam trees. After strenuous efforts by the corporation authorities, native saplings were planted on over 50 acres on the dumpyard’s premises.

The dumpyard houses a sewage treatment plant (STP) of 28 MLD capacity, and a solid waste segregation and shredding unit, which processes nearly 200 tonnes of waste collected from the 60 wards of the corporation.
Notably, 10,000 saplings were planted in association with the forest department in 2022 while 60,000 were planted in 2023 under the Thoothukudi airport’s CSR initiative. The corporation also planted 70,000 saplings on March 1, 2023, and 71,000 saplings on March 1, 2024, to mark Chief Minister MK Stalin's birthday.

In 2019, over 2,000 saplings were planted by some officials on over two acres. According to corporation officials, the dumpyard now has a variety of trees including banyan, jackfruit, gooseberry, fig, palm, guava, mango, coconut, and palm, apart from various native timber varieties such as teak wood, bamboo, sandalwood, ilupai, kumil, maruthai and mahagony.
The trees are also serving as a resting spot for several birds, reptiles and other creatures, the officials said.

A garden worker on the dumpyard premises said that until 2021, the saplings planted on two acres had withered due to a shortage of water. The restoration of the STP after special efforts by the mayor helped to water the plants. The treated water supported the afforestation drive, which continued after March 2022, he said.

Thoothukudi Corporation Mayor NP Jegan Periyasamy told TNIE that the saplings were planted using the Miyawaki method on 15 acres initially, and were later expanded. "We removed all the seemai karuvelam trees to restore the land with essential native trees," he said.

Jegan, who took charge as the mayor in March 2022, said there were saplings on a few acres when he took over the reins of the corporation. “I found that the trees were withering due to lack of water supply. The corporation began restoring the STP to generate treated water, which helped to water the plants. Currently, the green cover is on more than 50 acres,” he said.

"One MLD of water is sufficient to cater to all the plants daily", he said, adding the plants grow well in the treated water, which otherwise flows wastefully into the sea.

"There was criticism that the saplings would not grow as the soil is saline in nature. However, the trees began growing. We have plans to transplant fully-grown coconut trees along the seashore of the dumpyard,” Jegan added.

Social activist V Gunaselan, also the coordinator of the Thoothukudi Environment Protection Movement, said, “The thick dense forest near an urban space surrounded by thermal power plants and chemical industries is a pleasure and will help better the climatic conditions.”

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