PWD conducted soil tests near Pallikaranai marsh, recently

Environmentalists are up in arms against the public works department (PWD) for conducting soil tests in Sholinganallur, near the Pallikaranai marshland, for the construction of a complex to house government offices.

According to members of Nature Trust, PWD has begun testing soil near Perumbakkam Lake opposite the special economic zone (SEZ) on Perumbakkam Main Road, close to Sholinganallur intersection.

“Many NGOs have been fighting for several years, urging the State government to protect whatever is left of the southern-most corner of Pallikaranai marshland. Perumbakkam wetland serves as a temporary home to several migratory and rare birds,” says K.V.R.K. Thirunaran of Nature Trust.

However, officials say they are not destroying the protected wetland and that the government complex will come up on 11 acres of land classified as ‘tharisu’ (unassessed dry waste) land, part of 70 hectares that belong to the revenue department.

Even the 377 acres, on which the SEZ located on the opposite side stands, belongs to the same classification. Only rainwater stagnates there during the monsoon and it is not part of the marshland, says a PWD official. The soil tests were taken up only after a government circular was issued, he says.

An initial estimated amount of Rs. 2 crore has been allotted for constructing the building that will house the office of the Sholinganallur tahsildar (now functioning from a rented building), a sub-treasury and other government offices.

There is hardly any vacant plot along Rajiv Gandhi Salai (IT corridor) for constructing additional school buildings, say officials. For instance, the Panchayat Union Primary School in Perungudi was recently upgraded to a middle school, but there is no space to build any structures further.

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