Chennai has lost substantial wetlands to development

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | LAASYA SHEKHAR
Published Oct 7, 2016, 8:00 am IST
Updated Oct 7, 2016, 8:01 am IST
Can Chennai be ready to face natural disasters like flood and drought? The answer is a big No.
80 per cent of lands in Chennai were in wet condition in 1980.
 80 per cent of lands in Chennai were in wet condition in 1980.

CHENNAI: Can Chennai be ready to face natural disasters like flood and drought? The answer is a big No.  The fact that Chennai has lost more than 65 per cent of its wet regions in the past 36 years explains the sorry state of the city.  According to Jayashree Vencatesan of Care Earth Trust, 80 per cent of lands in Chennai were in wet condition in 1980. “They might not be wetlands. But they were grassy areas enough to accommodate rainfall. It had declined to just 15 per cent in 2010,” she told Deccan Chronicle on the sidelines of the Chennai Water Forum conducted at Kalakshetra Foundation on Thursday.

“Ecological encroachment spelt doom for the population of wetlands, compromising the city’s capability to retain, recharge and drain the rain water. The net result is: City has a lot of water coming from upstream,” she added. With major wetlands of the state including Pallikarnai marsh and Kaliveli suffering human intervention, it is the need of the hour to come up with solutions.

Identifying and characterizing the wetlands is necessary to restore it. Restoring wetlands require a well succeeded scientific approach and strong policy decisions, she said. Pallikaranai marsh is a starling example to prove that the wetlands receive no support from the administrative bodies. Kancheepuram district administration, in a major violation to environmental norms gave a green signal to set up a zonal transport office on the marsh, which was recently objected by the Southern bench of National Green Tribunal.

The restoration project should be backed by a land use policy where purpose based zonations should be put in place to reduce the vulnerability to floods. “Identification of flood mitigation zones is necessary. The right approach is to include experts from all sectors,” she said.


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