Pallikaranai Marshlands need Conservation Focus
Situated in the south of Chennai, Pallikaranai is a wetland that still barely exists and covers thousands of acres of land. Being an important marshland in the country, it is a protected reserve forest. Marked as one of the happening bird watching areas, this region receives more traffic of birds than Vedanthangal bird sanctuary. So, certain areas in the marshland are identified as bird watching areas for bird enthusiasts all around the city. Every weekend, in the morning, one could witness bird spotters and photographers spread along the stretch with all the equipment to catch a glimpse of the birds and record them with pictures and videos. People living in flats in Tambaram, Pallavaram and nearby places frequent this place for bird watching.
The diversity of birds in the Pallikaranai marshlands:
At least 100 different species of birds can be spotted along this stretch. Both endemic and migratory birds from other parts of the world visit the marshland during different seasons. Some of the commonly spotted birds are:
Besides the birds, there are also endemic fish species in the scattered lakes and ponds, several species of amphibians, snakes, lizards, and grasses.
State of the wetlands:
With rapid commercial and residential development along the stretch, the marshland has shrunk from 80 square kilometer area to less than 10 square kilometer area size right now. The marsh is still being occupied by residential settlements, commercial IT spaces and so on. Apart from these problems, the corporation department also dumps all the waste without proper segregation of source. Incineration of this waste is also disturbing the species thriving around this area. Industrial waste put into the marshland is another deteriorating factor that impacts the patch of protected land.
Reasons for conserving the wetland:
- By conserving the wetland, ramifications of floods due to intense rain can be eliminated. Flood water drains from other water bodies would enter this area.
- The marshland is a natural reservoir that can be used to store water.
- Coastal erosion can be prevented by preserving the wetland.
- Presence of a wetland would also reduce the damages that cyclones make.
- Wetlands would help the groundwater table levels to increase.
- Obviously, wetlands would be home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.
- Preserving it would contribute to the development of socio-economic activities by attracting bird watchers and tourists.
Future of the Pallikaranai Marshlands:
The only hope that still exists for the marshland is that the government has finally handed over the wetland to the forest department and made it a reserved area. Before this action, waste dumped at the marshes used to reach the Pallavaram Thoraipakkam Radial Road. But now there is a boundary to ensure that the waste doesn’t intrude the road or critical spots in the land. Bird watching areas are designated for the enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Besides, the department is also planning to develop a pathway that can be used by the public to watch the birds clearly without any hindrance. Plans are also there to install spotting scopes along with an information center for the people to know and learn about the birds that visit this nurturing landscape.