11 views 5 mins 0 Comment

TN forest department takes steps to list Pallikaranai marshland under Ramsar sites

- November 6, 2021

Chennai, Nov 6 (BPNS)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned the globe of an imminent catastrophe if nature is not properly conserved and that heatwaves, excessive rains, floods, landslips, and landslides cause havoc to the lives of people. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland is underway from October 31 where global leaders have promised to conserve the environment and thereby protect the planet.

Taking a cue from these environmental warnings and initiatives and the Madras High Court coming down heavily on it, the Tamil Nadu government has taken steps to conserve the Pallikaranai marshland which is in close proximity to Chennai’s happening place the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) where most of the IT companies have set shop.

The Tamil Nadu forest and environment department have taken steps to declare Pallikaranai Marshland under the ‘Ramsar’ site. This is following an order of the Madras High Court to declare Pallikaranai Marshland as Ramsar site as also to work for a bird sanctuary at the place.

Ramsar site is to protect environmentally fragile areas after an intergovernmental treaty signed at the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 under the auspicious of the United Nations. The Ramsar treaty has come into effect to conserve and maintain wetlands. India is a signatory to the treaty and it has come into effect in the country in 1982.

The Tamil Nadu forest and environment department has commenced awareness programmes and to enlighten the people living around the marshland as steps to get the area declared as  Ramsar site.

The department has also taken steps to educate people on the importance of conservation of wetlands and marshlands for the future generation and with India being a signatory to the Glasgow meeting on reducing the global temperature and to reduce carbon waste. The marsh lands and wetlands play a major role in the conservation and protection of wetlands in Pallikaranai is a major project of the environment department of Tamil Nadu.

Justice Kirubhakaran( since retired) has in a landmark judgment directed the state government and specifically the Tamil Nadu forest and environment department to prevent any non-forestry activities in the marshland. He had also directed the government to reclaim unutilized lands allotted to government industries and institutions. The forest department, according to highly placed sources has commenced procedures to reclaim unutilised land from government industries.

Any land that is part of Pallinkaranai marshland and provided to individuals, institutions, or industries must be immediately reclaimed, the judge had ordered. Sources in the forest department said that the government has commenced steps to vacate the land that is part of the Pallikaranai marshland.

Since the judgment, department of forest and environment has taken steps to prevent the disposal of municipal solid waste, treated or untreated effluents, or sewage into the marsh as these are important for Ramsar site declaration.

The government has also commenced fencing the marshland on all sides and removed blocks in water channels based on the judgment. In fact, the high court had ordered to provide a compliance report by December 21, 2021, on the level of work that has been carried out on the judgment to preserve the environment and the marshland.

R. Padmanabhan, Director, Socio-Economic Development Foundation, a think tank based out of Madurai and actively involved in the conservation of environment while speaking to BPNS said, “ Getting Ramsar notification to Pallikaranai is the need of the hour and this would give international status to the marshland that helps conservation of wetlands. With the climate convention in Glasgow stressing the need for reducing global temperature or rather not to allow it to rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius, conservation of Pallikaranai marshland is the right step and the Honourable Madras High court has come with the guidelines regarding the same.”