Minister promises creation of an eco-sensitive buffer zone around the lake

Brakes will soon be applied on the unrestricted industrial development around Pulicat lake, the second largest brackish water lagoon in the country, if the assurance given by the Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest, Jairam Ramesh, is of any indication. Mr. Ramesh spoke to this correspondent on Wednesday, when he acknowledged the need to act tough on the perceived damage caused to the ‘important ecological area' and promised steps for creation of an eco-sensitive buffer zone.

Spread across Nellore (Andhra Pradesh) and Tiruvallur (Tamil Nadu) districts, Pulicat is a famous feeding place for a variety of aquatic and terrestrial birds, especially the migratory visitors during winter.

The sudden emergence of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and industrial estates abutting the National Highway -5, which skirts the Pulicat lake area, did ring alarm bells then, but the ‘industry-friendly' State preferred to look aside.

The State Forest Department was learnt to have forwarded a proposal sometime back to the government to declare 10 km from the contours of the Pulicat Lake as “eco fragile” zone, making it free of industrial activities.

Instead of initiating action on the issue, the State, on the other hand, gave more sops to the industry and invited multinational companies to set up units at precariously close distances from the lake.

The Tamil Nadu government too, had remained indifferent for long to the rampant industrialisation on its side of the lake.

With a resolve to undo the damage, the Ministry of Environment has now asked the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to prepare a management plan for revival of the lake, given the proximity of its Sriharikota rocket launch centre to the lake and the ‘common stakes' involved.

Mr. Ramesh made it clear that the action plan would involve both the State government in the major step towards restoration of Pulicat's ecological value.

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