Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Choking the marsh

Just over a year ago, a large part of the Pallikaranai Marsh was declared a reserve forest area. While it was certainly a good deed in the cause of preserving the biodiversity of the estuarine ecosystem at Pallikaranai, what went ignored was the continued sanction to use a part of the wetland as a dumping ground.

The Pallikarani Marsh was home to over a 100 species of birds, besides having a variety of reptile, amphibian, insect and plant species. Unfortunately, it is immensely difficult to figure out how many remain. The smoke and stench from the dumping ground chase out even the most committed nature lover.

The Marsh has shrunk to less than half the area it occupied 15 years ago. The boom of Velachery as a commercial hotspot continues to put a lot of pressure on the land around the Marsh to be opened for development; that has been resisted, for the most part. But with the dumping ground spilling outside its allocated boundaries, it won't be long before the waste chokes the swamp - both on the ground and in the air. It is about time the Forest Department reclaimed the Marsh - not just on paper!

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