In their joint effort to save the Pallikaranai marshland, environmentalists, ornithologists, wildlife researchers and residents living around the area have urged the State government and the local body to turn the marshland into a green hub with walkways, bird rests, and parks for local residents, and give easy access to public into the marshland.

This, they said, would help local residents (through their welfare organisations) to monitor the marshland from being destroyed through encroachments, illegal dumping of garbage in the reserve forest area and poaching of birds. 

This is one of the major recommendations made at the first brainstorming session held on Friday to develop a comprehensive management plan for the protection, restoration and conservation of the marshland.

It is the first of a series of sessions jointly organised by the Conservation Authority of Pallikaranai Marsh, the Tamil Nadu forest department and Care Earth Trust, an NGO.

“Ideas from these sessions will be incorporated into the management plan being prepared by the forest department to protect the marshland,” said Kancheepuram district forest officer, K. Soundirapandian, who chaired the meeting.

Originally spread over 5,500 hectares, currently the marshland covers less than 1,000 hectares. Ill-planned development, including the creation of the IT corridor near the marshland in the 1990s, and dumping of unsegregated garbage by the civic body for decades, are to be blamed for the shrinking of the marshland, residents said.

“Such unplanned development also blocked the natural water flow from adjoining small water bodies to the marshland and also the incursion of seawater into it,” said Jayshree Vencatesan, founder, Care Earth Trust.  

Some of the other suggestions made at the meeting include inclusion of nari kuravas, who were earlier involved in poaching, in the conservation of the marshland, relocation of the dumping yard and restriction on construction activities, especially of high-rise buildings, including IT parks.

“Despite its destruction, a large variety of migratory and indigenous birds, including flamingos, sandpipers and larger whistling teal flock the marshland,” said K.V.R.K. Thirunaranan, founder of Nature Trust.

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