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Session8: Restoration methodologies and conservation strategies

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Chairman: Dr. Peeter Noges & Dr. M. A. Khan

A Drainage Swamp in Peril A Case Study of Pallinakarai Drainage Swamp near Chennai

Thirunavavukarasu S 


Pallikaranai drainage swamp is a fresh water swamp adjacent to the Bay of Bengal near Chennai. It is located about 20 km south of Chennai city at latitude 12°54˘40˛ and longitude 80°14˘00˛. This swamp is bounded on the east by  old Mahabalipuram road, on the west by Tambaram-Velachery road, on the north by Velachery village, on the south by Medavakkam –Karappakkam road. This swamp drains an area of 235 sq Km and the surplus from the swamp falls into the Bay of Bengal via Oggium Maduvu, B-canal, Kovalam backwaters and Kovalam creek.

 The topography of the swamp is in such a way, it always retains some storage in it thus forming an aquatic ecosystem. This swamp has many flora and fauna. Many aquatic species like fish, frog, snails and many microorganisms are found here. More than one thousand water buffaloes are fed by the swamp daily.

 The CMDA planned to divert the swamp area for other urban development purposes on a large scale, which included the development of the area for industrial purpose. The CMDA appointed Matt McDonald of U.K. as a consultant for preparing the EIA of the area. Unfortunately, the consultants have underestimated the environmental impact and damage to the aquatic ecosystem.

 In the meantime, during the last two decades the swamp has been encroached upon for other purposes like construction of an Engineering college, Arts college, hospital, sewage treatment plant, solid waste disposal, Madras rapid transit system, NIOT buildings, firewood wholesale market etc. Thus about 40% of the swamp has already been diverted for other purposes. But the PWD has its own reservations on diverting the area for other purposes as it would affect the draining capacity of the swamp and cause flooding. Then PWD proposed the formation of a reservoir in the balance swamp area already encroached, which in future may prove to be a blessing.

 This paper gives the hydrology, usefulness, environmental sensitiveness, biological diversity, socio-cultural aspects etc associated with this aquatic ecosystem. It also explains how far the formation of a reservoir in the swamp would be effective in preserving the aquatic ecosystem.

Address: PWD Technical Education Sub-division III,
Guindy, Chennai 600 025. India
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