Perumbakkam wetland in Sholinganallur is among the last surviving vast patches of prime wetland and a hotspot for bird-watchers in Chennai’s immediate suburbs in the south.
Residents, bird lovers and environmentalists want the State government to notify it as a protected wetland at the earliest.
Located beside Perumbakkam Main Road, that connects arterial Velachery Main Road and Rajiv Gandhi Salai, and opposite a special economic zone, the wetland is home to several rare and migratory birds.
The laying of a ‘kutcha’ road — by dumping and levelling construction rubble — six months ago, close to the wetland’s fringes has alarmed long-time residents as well as environmentalists.
Spread over 70 hectares (about 175 acres), the wetland is the last point where rainwater run-off and surplus water from seven major tanks, in areas around Sithalapakkam, Perumbakkam, Ottiyambakkam, Medavakkam and nearby pockets, stagnate, during the monsoon, before gently overflowing and meandering into the Pallikaranai marshland.
Incidentally, this wetland forms the southernmost boundary of Pallikaranai marshland. Environmentalists and political parties have expressed concern that the creation of an IT corridor and building of massive complexes around the wetland has permanently altered the natural course of water from this wetland to Pallikaranai.
After the creation of the SEZ over 377 acres, the public works department created a channel to drain water from the wetland to Pallikaranai marshland. “Destruction of the wetland will prevent water from draining into the Pallikaranai marshland,” said K.V.R.K. Thirunaran of The Nature Trust.
Some months ago, the ‘kutcha’ road abutting the western boundary of the wetland was laid to connect Perumbakkam Main Road to a multi-storey complex that is under construction. Mounds of garbage can be seen on the margins of this temporary pathway.
Employees at the Perumbakkam village panchayat and the St. Thomas Mount panchayat union said they had not given sanction for the laying of the ‘kutcha’ road.