Unabated urbanization degrading Pallikaranai marshland

Aparna Singh

Chennai, July 15: Pallikaranai wetland located in south Chennai is one of India’s unique marshlands and has been facing serious environmental issues.

Hazardous plastic waste disposal in Pallakaranai
Hazardous plastic waste disposal in Pallakaranai

This marshland, once spread over 5500 ha,houses 330 species of flora and fauna and has been reduced to 600 ha over the years. It is being used as a dump yard by the Chennai cooperation which was granted 25 acres of land but it has increased to 330 acres. This unauthorized dumping in the marshland is affecting surrounding vegetation and habitation.

Out of two dumping grounds in Chennai, Perungudi is deteriorating the health of people in the nearby locality. V. Srinivasan an activist of Save Pallakaranai Marshland (SPM) who has been campaigning since 2003 said,

“A survey revealed high levels of dioxin were found in the milk of lactating mothers living within a one km radius of the Pallikaranai marshland”.

Pallakaranai Marshland
Pallakaranai Marshland

Srinivasan who has been a part of SPM since 2003 said, “Recent budget allocation of Rs 8 crore towards waste management is futile. The policy level only looks at privatization and there is hardly any importance placed on primary level initiatives”.

Although the new government has scrapped plans of building a financial city in Perumbakam to protect bio diversity, it needs to take more measures to keep the marshland from getting polluted.

Pallikaranai Wetland Authority was set up and endowed with the task of management of the marshland in 2012.

According to Srinivasan, remediation efforts could be taken up by the government which includes a botanical garden and an interpretation centre for bird watchers. He also suggests raising awareness among citizens about waste segregation at primary level.

Efforts by SPM are still on to put a complete stop to dumping by 2015.

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