Express press service

CHENNAI: The Union Ministry of Environment has approved Tamil Nadu’s proposal for financial support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to restore the Pallikaranai Swamp in Chennai. The GCF is a new global fund created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to support the efforts of developing countries in the fight against climate change.

Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, confirmed to TNIE that the state government has received a letter of no objection from the Union government. “According to the procedure, we submit a proposal, which is approved by an accredited agency, to the Union Ministry. It then examines it and submits a letter of no objection to the State to transmit the proposal to the GCF. Our proposal has been approved by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and has now been sent to the GCF. »

Sahu said the government will receive just over Rs 200 crore, which will be used for the scientific eco-restoration of the Pallikaranai swamp, which is essential for the general well-being of the city – be it groundwater recharge or flood mitigation. “The proposal includes the removal of invasive species and the introduction of native species; clogging of wastewater inlets; and take steps to declare the marsh a bird sanctuary and Ramsar site.

Environment Minister Meyyanathan Siva V told TNIE that the government is committed to protecting all significant wetlands in the state. “Chief Minister MK Stalin launched the Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission precisely for this. To restore the Pallikaranai Swamp, the biggest challenge is the landfill. The land it sits on will be salvaged and turned over to the Forest Department. Likewise, we plan to clean up legacy waste from 143 landfills across the state and restore areas. For example, the Vellalore landfill in Coimbatore is 650 acres, and just 1 km away, the previous government built a bus stop as part of the smart city project.

According to research carried out by the Care Earth Trust in 1991, the Pallikaranai Swamp covered 2,450ha in 1991, but in 2015 it lost out to various developments including a railway line and only covered 600ha. Despite its small size, the swamp acts like a sponge that stores heavy monsoon rains and releases water during the dry months.

Last year, the Madras High Court ordered the Department of Environment and Forestry to prevent non-forestry activities in the swamp. It also passed an ordinance to move landfills to the swamp and asked the government to reclaim unused land allocated to government industries and institutions.

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