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Perumbakkam wetland, an unfinished business

The Hindu, 30th August, 2014

CONSERVING NATURE: “The wetland in Perumbakkam is a feeding habitat for birds at the Pallikaranai marsh. Also, this wetland provides a peaceful environment for these birds,” says Nature Trust founder K.V.R.K. Thirunaranan. File Photo. The State Government ordered long ago that the bird habitat be transferred to the Forest Department. Due to procedural delays, the transfer has not been effected yet. D. MADHAVAN reports More than a month after the State government passed orders to transfer 71.58 hectares of wetland in Perumbakkam to the Forest Department, the revenue officials of the Sholinganllur taluk have not taken the necessary steps, including survey of the allotted land, which have to be followed before handing it over to the Forest Department. Revenue officials of the taluk, which comes under the Kancheepuram administration, have not been able to honour the repeated requests from the Forest Department to hand over the land allotted to them.

 

According to the officials, they have not been able to begin the survey due to staff shortage. They don’t have a surveyor. As a result, the Government order that cancelled previous order, which allocated the aforesaid wetland for the establishment of a financial city, remain only on paper. As per the government order, the allotted wetland in Perambakkam should be handed over to the State-run Conservation Authority of Pallikaranai Marshland (CAPM) by the Revenue Department of the Kancheepuram district administration. “Unless the land is given to the Forest Department, we cannot take necessary steps including organising detailed survey of flora and fauna in the wetland as part of conservation efforts.

 

As both departments are State agencies, we can only request each other,” said a source. Located on the southern side of the Medavakkam –Sholinganallur Road, the wetland in Perambakkam is home to 132 species including the white-spotted garden skink, Russell’s viper, dwarf gourami, chromide, windowpane oyster, mud crab and mullet.Every month, on an average, at least 40,000 birds flock to the wetland. Interestingly, last month, wildlife researchers and ornithologists found the bronze-winged Jacana at the wetland. This bird, a native species found in tropical zone including southeast Asia, was believed to have disappeared for the wetlands of Chennai, especially Pallikaranai.

 

The wetland in Perumbakkam is a feeding habitat for birds at the Pallikaranai marsh. Also, this wetland provides a peaceful environment for these birds,” says Nature Trust founder K.V.R.K. Thirunaranan. Experts say rainwater flows to the Pallikaranai marsh through the Perumbakkam wetland before going to Okkiyam Maduvu at Thoraipakkam on OMR. As a result, handing over the wetland to the Forest Department would help them clear the inlet channels, which take excess rainwater from these wetlands to Pallikaranai marshland, before the onset of northeast monsoon, which is slated between October and November each year.In fact, 39 tanks in and around Pallikaranai marsh are the major water source for the marshland for ages. Freshwater comes through the wetland in Perumbakkam and seawater, from the Okkiyam–Thoraipakkam canal.