Forest Department had plans for integration management of Pallikaranai

The Forest Department's ambitious project for integrated management of Pallikaranai marshland and efforts towards declaring it a Ramsar Site hangs in balance as the Chennai Corporation is planning to start remediation of the required land where garbage is being dumped. The Forest Department made the preliminary move last year to get the Pallikaranai marshland declared as a Ramsar site by submitting a compliance report to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

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The declaration of the marshaland area as a Ramsar site would be a recognition of the unique eco-system that is present in the area and the need for conserving it. However, the Chennai Corporation, in a recent meeting, expressed its inability to accept the request of the Forest Department, as over 200 acres of the 550 acre piece of marshland on the northern side of the Inner Ring Road is being used for dumping of waste.

The Corporation had already agreed to part with another 445 acre of the marshland on the southern side of the Inner Ring Road for restoration work. The Forest Department, which plans to undertake restoration of the eco-sensitive Pallikaranai marshland, will soon get the 445 acres.

A detailed master plan for restoration of the entire Pallikarani marshland has been readied and the area is likely to become the biggest eco-park with a range of facilities including a boardwalk. The area to be handed over is not being used by the civic body for dumping garbage currently. Besides facilitating proper demarcation and hydro-ecological assessment, land transfer of the entire marshland will also establish the Forest Department as the sole agency for better restoration and preservation of the area and declaration as Ramsar Site.

Activists and local residents continue to demand that the Chennai Corporation hand over the marsh to the Forest Department, but the civic body is planning to carry out remediation of 200 acres of the marshland to for its solid waste management project in Perungudi. While the remediation project might help restore the marshland, the amount of time necessary for the process could be quite considerable.

The landowning agencies of the marshland include the Chennai Corporation, Forest Department, Public Works Department and the Revenue Department.

The marshland has shrunk over the last few decades following the creation of residential areas including Perungudi, Taramani, Velachery, Siruseri, Okkkiam Thoraipakkam, Pallikaranai, Madipakkam, and Karapakkam.

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