Environmental activists lay stress on protecting the lake

Because of its brackish water, the Pulicat lake has proved to be an ideal habitat for diverse and wide-ranging life forms. This wetland is home to 160 species of fish, 25 species of polycheate worms, 12 species of prawn, 19 species of molusca and nearly 100 species of birds. Flamingos and pelicans are among the spectacular aquatic flora fauna found in this wetland.

Local people and environmental activists point out that there is a greater need now to protect the rich bio-diversity in the Pulicat considering the fact that it is facing a number of problems because of the proposed industrialization in its vicinity and also the setting up of a major port near Dugarajapatnam. The uniqueness of the lake is that it serves as a protective shield for the adjoining space centre at Sriharikota.

The water body is also home to the growth of mangroves that act as natural agents against soil erosion in times of storms and cyclones.

As per the findings of S.K.M. Basha, principal investigator, UGC major research project, a threat has emerged for the wildlife division of the Forest Department located at Sullurupeta now because of the crisis confronting the Pulicat. Once the port-based industrialisation takes place, the biodiversity will be disturbed along with encroachment of the water body. This may eventually lead to winding up of the wildlife division as well, he says.

The studies revealed that people of over 23 villages eke out their livelihoods based on the abundant resources of the lake. There are about 4,000 fisherman and 3,000 schedule caste and scheduled tribe families who are in danger of losing their means of living, if the Pulicat environs are disturbed in the name of setting up industries.

The researchers express concerns that unless immediate conservation strategies are put in place, the entire eco-system in and around the Pulicat will be affected in the near future. If the natural habitats are not protected, the wildlife will not stay for long.