This will help with conservation of the water bodies for groundwater recharge and development of bio-diversity, and will also help prevent encroachments and sewage discharge
Four water bodies in Chennai will soon be notified as wetlands under the Wetland Conservation and Management Rules, 2017. This will enable conservation, as well as sustainable use of the water bodies and prevent further degradation.
Lakes in Velachery, Madipakkam, Ambattur and Korattur have been prioritised in the first phase to be identified as wetlands and for conservation efforts, apart from Pallikaranai marshland. The district-level wetland management committee, which was set up by the Tamil Nadu State Wetland Authority, has initiated the process of notifying the identified water bodies as wetlands.
All natural water bodies qualify to be identified as wetlands under the Wetland Rules, except for rivers and river channels. Those water bodies created for purposes such as salt production, drinking water and aquaculture also cannot be included.
Sources in the committee said the process has been started for notifying these four lakes as wetlands, at a meeting held earlier this month. Once the committee, comprising the Collector, district forest officer and representatives from various government agencies, recommends the identified wetlands to the State Wetland Authority, measures would be taken up for notification and regulation.
The committee has also sought a list of wetlands in the city from the Water Resources Department (WRD) and Greater Chennai Corporation as per revenue records. As of now, 31 water bodies have been identified by the WRD. Steps would be taken simultaneously for notifying them as wetlands too.
Once these lakes are enlisted as wetlands or a wetlands complex, the Wetland Rules will be enforced and strategies would be chalked out for conservation and judicious use. Conservation of wetlands as sources of groundwater recharge and development of bio-diversity would be among the efforts. Efforts are already in progress to preserve Pallikaranai marshland, which is one of the largest urban wetlands in the city.
A comprehensive list of activities to be regulated and permitted would be developed for specific wetlands. Some of the prohibited activities in the notified wetlands include encroachments or urbanisation, discharge of sewage or industrial effluents and solid waste dumping, sources said.
Officials of the WRD said integrated management plans and schemes could be devised for further rejuvenation and preservation of the water bodies that have shrunk in size and are grappling with issues of sewage pollution and dumping despite various rejuvenation efforts.
Some of the lakes like those in Ambattur and Korattur have already undergone improvement under eco-restoration projects. While most of the encroachments have been cleared, complete removal of encroached structures and plugging sewage pollution remains a challenge.
While the water bodies would be under WRD control, the concerted efforts of various government agencies, including the Forest Department, would help with the sustainable management of the lakes, said an official.
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