Presentation on theme: "The environmental plight of Pallikaranai Wetlands cover around 6% of the earths land surface and consist of land where the water level remains near or."— Presentation transcript:
The environmental plight of Pallikaranai Wetlands cover around 6% of the earths land surface and consist of land where the water level remains near or above the surface of the ground for most of the year. Wetlands include marshes, swamps, lagoons, bogs, fens and mangroves – all of which store water for extended periods of time and help keep floods in check, prevent coastal erosion and mitigate the effects of natural disasters like cyclones and tidal waves. They are home to an incredibly diverse range of plants and animals. A recent survey carried out by the Wildlife Institute of India reveals that 70-80% of freshwater marshes and lakes in the Gangetic flood plains have been lost over the last five decades. At present, only 50 percent of Indias wetlands remain. They continue to disappear at an alarming rate of 2-3% every year leading to environmental and ecological problems including an increase in flooding, a rapid decline in species, and a reduction in water quality. Lalitha N and Sivapradha CR visited the Pallikarnai wetlands to capture photos that depict the environmental changes taking place in one of Chennais few natural ecosystems.
The Pallikaranai wetland is a fresh water swamp adjacent to the Bay of Bengal and is located about 20 kilometres south of Chennai. As one enters Pallikaranai, it is hard to ignore the incredible rate of development, such as the construction of this flyover in the midst of the marsh, that is taking place in the area. Developmental paradox
A survey carried out by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Board in 2002 revealed that Pallikarnai was home to more than 60 species of plants, 40 species of fish, 100 species of birds, 5 species of butterflies, and 20 species of reptiles as well as a diverse range of molluscs and amphibians. It is also one of the few places where vegetation such as the Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce grow naturally. Now, however, the biodiversity of fauna is not what it used to be. High pollution levels have reduced the numbers of these species, and the low faunal presence in the marshlands indicates high levels of wetland degradation. Photographer: Ramanan This photo is not the property of CDF Diverse ecosystem
At the time of independence, these wetlands covered 5,000 hectares extending from Velachery to Sholinganallur in the East and Jalladampet in the West. By 2002, rampant construction, including that of high rise buildings and IT parks, had caused the Pallikarnai wetlands to shrink to 593 hectares. Rampant construction
Ongoing sanctioned constructions, such as government institutions like NIOT (National Institute of Ocean Technology), as well as illegal constructions have not just stripped the swamp of a large extent of land but have also clogged the natural conduits into the marshland which increases the chances of flooding in neighbouring areas. Dire consequences
317 hectares of the marsh was declared a forest reserve by the State of Tamil Nadu. Scientists and researchers involved with the protection of the marsh argue that an additional 150 hectares, located on both sides of the Thoraipakkam-Tambaram road that bisects the marsh, should also be declated a forest reserve. Reserved forest areas
Directly adjacent to the forest reserve block, concrete buildings have started to sprout up on the Velachery- Perungudi Road. The fate of reserved areas
Another major threat to the ecological balance of the marsh comes in the form of the Municipalitys appropriation of180 hectares of the marsh for dumping and incinerating garbage. This is in addition to the tons of garbage already being dumped into the swamp by a private sanitation unit. Besides the production of carcinogenic toxins created by the burning of garbage, the marshland has further been destroyed by the construction of a pathway through the marsh to facilitate the movement of vehicles to dump garbage. This waste, loaded with pathogens, poses a serious health hazard to the residents of the area. Everyday, over 4,500 metric tons of garbage is dumped here from South Chennai. Garbage disposal
The Chennai Corporation's dump yard occupied 56 hectares in 2002. By 2007, it had taken over a sprawling 136 acres. It is currently undergoing further expansion. Expansion
45 Million Litres a day (MLD) of raw sewage from the surrounding localities is brought by the tanker load and is discharged directly into the marsh. This could cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem by depleting oxygen and throttling plant and animal life. Sewage
The future of Pallikarnai While leaving Pallikarnai, one is struck by the strong need for advocacy to publicise the issues that are prevalent in this area. If the government and people of Tamil Nadu are not sensitised to the multiple environmental issues playing out in the wetlands, it is hard to see how this diverse ecosystem will survive in the face of burgeoning construction and blatant environmental violations.