|Pallikaranai Wetland is a freshwater swamp in Chennai spread over 690 hectares. This centuries’ old marsh is the only surviving wetland ecosystem of the city and is among the last few remaining natural wetlands of south India. It is one of the 94 identified wetlands under National Wetland Conservation and Management Programme (NWCMP).
Pallikaranai attracts more than 130 migratory birds from Siberia and North Asian regions. On an average, nearly 10,000 birds visit the wetland every month. The place is a paradise for bird watchers.
“This marshland is not only for birds, but is for man as well,” said K V R K Thirunaranan, founder of The Nature Trust. “This marshland is a boon and is perhaps the only one in India that exists in the heart of a city,” he said.
Situated near Velachery, Chennai the marshland has been shrinking due to encroachments, ever since the construction boom began. The area is slowly becoming a concrete jungle. The wetland, once spread over 5000 hectares, has been reduced to 690 hectares now. The part of the marsh where garbage from across the city has been dumped is beyond repair and has drastically affected the flow of water, especially due to plastic wastes.
The government has been taking efforts to retain the marsh and ensure that it remains a natural habitat for a variety of flora and fauna. Environmentalists and experts plea for arresting any further damage to this delicate ecology. A Conservation Authority of Pallikaranai Marshland (CPML) has been constituted and a sum of Rs. 9.21 crore has been sanctioned for its restoration and development.
Jayshree Vencatesan of CareEarth opined: “a comprehensive management plan has been developed for the protection, restoration and conservation of the Pallikaranai Marsh. The project focuses on environmental, ecological and hydrological restoration.”