MANAGEMENT PLAN

Conservation of Pallikaranai Marsh
Abstract
A flexible, inclusive and knowledge based approach, which can be broadly designated as the ‘Adaptive Management Plan for the Conservation of Pallikaranai Marsh’ is being recommended for the protection and conservation of Pallikaranai Marsh prepared by

& Care Earth

Table of Contents

..............................................................................................................1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY...............................................................................3 1. INTRODUCTION.....................................................................................5 2. WETLANDS – OPERATIONAL DEFINITION.................................................5 3. GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION OF PALLIKARANAI MARSH.............................8 4. BIODIVERSITY OF THE PALLIKARANAI MARSH.......................................10 5. ECOSYSTEM SERVICES OF THE PALLIKARANAI MARSH – FLOOD MITIGATION AND WATER RETENTION.......................................................11 6. CURRENT STATUS OF THE PALLIKARANAI MARSH.................................16 .............................................................................................................19 7. ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF THE PALLIKARANAI MARSH........................................20

Executive Summary
A large part of south Chennai was historically a flood plain, which spread over 50 sq. km, comprised of a large marsh (Pallikaranai marsh), smaller satellite wetlands, large tracts of pasture land and patches of dry forests. The presence of the freshwater aquifer running parallel to the coast has contributed rather significantly to the expansion of Chennai’s boundaries in the south – which is one of the many pointers to the presence and importance of the South Chennai Floodplain. The Pallikaranai Marsh is located along the Coramandel Coast south of the Adyar Estuary. It is surrounded by the IT-Corridor (Rajiv Gandhi Salai /erstwhile Old Mahabalipuram Road) and the residential areas such as Perungudi, Siruseri, Pallikaranai, Madipakkam, Velachery, Taramani etc. The original expanse of the marsh, estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and aerial photographs (Corona) of the year 1965 was about 5500 ha, which has currently been reduced to about 600 ha. The uniquely heterogeneous hydrology and ecology of the Pallikaranai Marsh makes the marsh one of the most diverse natural habitats of the country, with over 330 species of plants and animals. The degradation of the Pallikaranai Marsh and the south Chennai Floodplain is the primary driver for the floods in the landscape. Further, this degradation seems to be typified by poor handling and disposal of Municipal Solid Waste through landfills within wetlands, ill planned storm water drains, unregulated construction activity and the absence of a singular coordinating agency. A flexible, inclusive and knowledge based approach, which can be broadly designated as the ‘Adaptive Management Plan for the Conservation of Pallikaranai Marsh’ is being recommended for the protection and conservation of Pallikaranai Marsh in specific and the south Chennai Flood Plain in general. This plan accords equal consideration to people and nature, and in a manner is a reconciliation of conservation and development goals Key elements of the Management Plan include: 1. Establishment of a Coordinating Agency that would enable/facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement for the protection and conservation of the Pallikaranai Marsh. 2. Preparation of a Detailed Management Plan which would include components such as on ground demarcation of the marsh, soil and water assessments, ecological profiling, habitat zonation, sedimentation studies, biodiversity assessments as well as feasibility

studies for improved management of solid waste and sewage disposal. It would also involve evolving benchmarks for continued monitoring so that the effort of protecting the marsh is sustainable and true to its original character and functioning. 3. Establishment of a Wetland Centre to facilitate learning and education, awareness generation and capacity building; apart from provided structured and semi-structured opportunities for recreation and nature watch. 4. Nomination as a Ramsar Site to accord international recognition, protection and support for the Pallikaranai Marsh. The financial outlay for such an intervention is estimated as Rs.9.4 crores.

1. INTRODUCTION
The criticality of protecting and conserving the Pallikaranai Marsh, which is located in south Chennai needs no elaboration or further reiteration, especially in view of the sustained interest it has evoked across the country, and globally over the last decade. The following document therefore focuses on the strategy, processes and tools essentially for enabling the conservation of this marsh.

2. Wetlands – Operational Definition
Wetlands are the most important of life-supporting ecosystems that have sustained human lives and communities over the millennia. They are defined as ‘lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by standing water that does not exceed 6 meters’. Evidently, this seemingly generic definition facilitates the inclusion of a large gamut of habitats ranging from mangroves to peats and bogs. This diversity while contributing to the enormous diversity of wetland organisms is also a significant impediment in evolving overall management strategies and plans. Further, wetlands in view of their transitional nature need to be managed with caution since the probability of losing their ecological structure and integrity through a process called ecological flip is rather high. Wetlands are therefore ideally managed using a decentralized framework of management; with locale specific management processes and tools. A large part of south Chennai was historically a flood plain as evidenced by the soil type of the region, which is described as recent alluvium and granite gneiss. Spread over 50 sq. km, it comprised of a large marsh (Pallikaranai marsh), smaller satellite wetlands, large tracts of pasture land and patches of dry forests. The composite nature of the landscape is depicted in the following diagram wherein the entire landscape is defined as a coastal plain with intermittent and overlapping habitat types of cultivation, wetlands and scrub forests.

Fig 1: Habitat types of south Chennai Flood Plain
Locally known as Kazhiveli (a generic Tamil name for marshes and swamps), the Pallikaranai marsh drained about 250 sq. km, through two outlets viz the Okkiyam Madavu (channel) in Okkiyam thuraipakkam and the Kovalam Creek. It is imperative that the phrase ‘draining’ is to be understood in the context of flood mitigation, ground water recharge and irrigation. It is not to be deciphered as a one shot flushing of water. Remnant forests can be observed within the Theosophical Society campus, Guindy National Park-IIT complex and the Nanmangalam Reserve Forest.

It is also of significance that the smaller wetlands that surrounded the marsh served as the only source of irrigation for the area, which thrived on paddy and green leafy vegetable cultivation. This gave the marsh a legendary status since the villages did not have wells or dug-out ponds, which are the norm in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu (TN). The first known external manipulation of this system, which is part of the Coromandel Coast, was the laying of the Buckingham Canal. Devised as a navigation canal in 1806, of 421.55 km length, that connected Pedda Ganjam in Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Marakanam in TN, the canal served the primary purpose of ferrying salt. It is not well known that the canal was under private ownership and was then called the Cochrane Canal. In 1837, the Canal was taken over by the East India Company and renamed as the Government East Coast Canal. In 1876, it was rechristened the Buckingham Canal. The Buckingham Canal was devised as a salt water canal, tidal to a great extent in those parts where the river bars are open and utilized the numerous estuaries and backwaters along the East Coast. The city of Chennai due to its immediate proximity to the neighbouring state of AP and the presence of the extensive Pulicat Estuarine Complex to the north, and the Bay of Bengal to the East, can expand only towards the west and south. The presence of the freshwater aquifer running parallel to the coast has contributed rather significantly to the expansion of the city’s boundaries in the south – which is one of the many pointers to the presence and importance of the South Chennai Floodplain. While unplanned and adhoc human interventions have contributed to the large scale decimation of the landscape, the fundamental factor facilitating the degradation has been the continuation of the rather archaic system of land classification in the state by which the Pallikaranai Marsh was categorized as a wasteland.

While tracing the revenue history of Madras Presidency, Baden Powell distinguishes two periods, viz. early and modern settlements. While the early settlements were based largely on previous assessments, and encouraged territorial autonomy, the period that immediately preceded the establishment of the settlement department in 1858 witnessed the use of ‘rigorous criteria’ and involved the services of settlement and survey officers who mapped the lands. A broad distinction of occupied and unoccupied lands was made which, for the purposes of administration, was described as follows: occupied land was cultivated land and unoccupied land was uncultivated waste. While seemingly encouraging an increase of land under cultivation and individual ownership, the process of surveying was an exercise to claim ‘wasteland’ and bring it under State Control. Lands, excluding the forest tracts that were reserved, were classified into the following finer categories: patta, assessed dry and wet waste, unassessed waste and poromboke (revenue

and forest). Assessed dry and wet wastelands were lands that were kept uncultivated until an official allotment was made by the Revenue Department. This category of land included a range of habitats such as marshes, seasonal wetlands, steep and rocky slopes, abandoned pasture lands, and lands under shifting cultivation.

3. Geographical Location of Pallikaranai Marsh

V la er e ch y

Tar m ni a a K da a d an nch va i Thiru a iy v nm ur

M dip k m a a ka P ru ud e ng i Se ra va m P llika na a ra i

Th a a a or ip kk m

O a hor ip ka kkiy mt a ak m

Map 1: showing Pallikaranai Marsh within the South Chennai Flood Plain
The Pallikaranai Marsh is located along the Coramandel Coast south of the Adyar Estuary. It is surrounded by the IT-Corridor (Rajiv Gandhi Salai /erstwhile Old Mahabalipuram Road) and the

Sh g na olin a llur

residential areas of Perungudi and Thoraipakkam on the East, Siruseri-Sholinganallur villages on the south, the residential areas of Pallikaranai, Madipakkam and Narayanapuram on the West and Velachery, Taramani, Kandan Chavadi, Perungudi on the North. The original expanse of the marsh, estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and aerial photographs (Corona) of the year 1965 was about 5500 ha. Habitat loss of the marsh is discussed in the latter sections of the report.

4. Biodiversity of the Pallikaranai Marsh
The uniquely heterogeneous hydrology and ecology of the Pallikaranai Marsh makes the marsh one of the most diverse natural habitats of the country. A project on ‘Inland Wetlands of India’ commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India had prioritized Pallikaranai Marsh as one of the most significant wetlands of the country. Biodiversity of Pallikaranai Marsh is typified by the presence of species representing various faunal groups, of which birds, fishes and reptiles are the most prominent. It is the natural habitat to some of the most endangered reptiles such as the Russell’s viper and birds such as the Glossy Ibis, Pheasant tailed Jacana etc. The marsh has also had the distinction of new records of reptiles and plants being described, on a rather regular basis since 2002.

Table1: Biotic Profile of Pallikaranai Marsh

Plant/Animal groups

Number of species 114 7 5 9 46 10 21 115 10

Plants Butterflies Crustaceans (crabs and prawns) Mollusks (snails and clams) Fishes Amphibians (frogs and toads) Reptiles Birds Mammals

Total

337

5. Ecosystem services of the Pallikaranai Marsh – Flood Mitigation and Water Retention
Southern Chennai has experienced recurrent flooding notably since 2001-2002, although the average annual precipitation has remained consistent with the overall trend of the last 200 years. It is however important to note that since 1998 the city has witnessed intense rainfall days on a regular basis (see graph). These short yet intense rainfall days triggered flash floods as also water stagnation for prolonged duration. It is also of interest to note that many global cities that are rapidly expanding and growing, as is the case with Chennai, are also being subjected to recurrent, and yet times un-seasonal flooding. Further this seems to be more typical of cities that are located on coasts.

Graph 1: Precipitation average for Chennai city for the period 1995 – 2006
Note: The occurrence of intense rainfall days that triggered flash floods in the landscape.

Why does south Chennai get flooded is a question that is being studied over the last five years by a multi-disciplinary research team from Germany and India. Extracts of the research findings that are of relevance to the south Chennai Flood Plain and the Pallikaranai Marsh are being presented in the following sections. The methodological framework adopted for this long term study depicted in Fig 2

Fig 2: The methodological framework for the interdisciplinary study on flooding patterns in south Chennai

Note: the use of qualitative and quantitative methods across different spatial and temporal scales

The results of the study are summarized in the following schematic diagram, which clearly indicates that the degradation of the Pallikaranai Marsh and the south Chennai Floodplain is the primary driver for the floods in the landscape. Further, this degradation seems to be typified by poor handling and disposal of Municipal Solid Waste through landfills within wetlands, ill planned storm water drains, unregulated construction activity and the absence of a singular coordinating agency.

Picture 3: Summary of findings – flood perception and management.

It is however rather interesting to note that water logging of the south Chennai Floodplain was of local relevance, historically. The seasonal flushing and retention of water (which was of rather low intensity) enabled three primary livelihoods in the landscape viz. cultivation of paddy and green leafy vegetables, availability of fodder for the livestock and fishing. This is evidenced by the fact that there were no dug out wells in the landscape until the last four decades as also the presence of a salt tolerant variety of paddy viz. Oryza rufipogon which had until 2002 been reported only from the state of Orissa and West Bengal.

While the aforesaid livelihood options are of little relevance currently, the opportunity provided through the water holding capacity of the marsh, much of which is collected from the overrun of the wetlands of south Chennai cannot be discounted. For instance, if the overall extent of the marsh, as it is available on date, is considered to be around 900 ha, the surface area would account for 9 million square meters. If this surface could accommodate a minimum average of 1m of water, the volume of water that the marsh can potentially hold/drain can be estimated as 9 million cubic meters (9 million tons of standing water). However, if the marsh continues to be degraded and converted to terrestrial lands, not only does the water holding capacity of the marsh severely curtailed (a projection of 1/3rd loss of area by 2015), but the continued inflow of more or less the same quantum of water would cause flooding of the residential and commercial spaces within the landscape.

Map 2: a scenario of water retention capacity of the Pallikaranai Marsh for the time period 2001 to 2015

6. Current status of the Pallikaranai Marsh
If the year 1965 is considered as a reference point, the last 50 years has led to a 90 percent habitat loss of the Pallikaranai Marsh (a large portion of the marsh falls within the survey numbers 657 and 658). Within this loss, three broad patterns can be discerned; the first where large tracts of the marsh especially those along Thoraipakkam, Pallikaranai and Perungudi have been reclaimed into terrestrial habitats and converted into residential colonies. The second loss is characterized by habitat fragmentation wherein roads, infrastructure, municipal landfills, sewage treatment facilities etc have fragmented the marsh into smaller portions and grossly impacted the natural drainage pattern. The third is a direct consequence of the first two, as also the unscientific manner of addressing flood control, wherein large tracts of the marsh have been invaded by invasive species of plants notably Prosopis juliflora and Water Hyacinth. The following series of figures and tables provide further details on these aspects:

Fig 4

Fig 5

Land use and land cover change around the marshland 1965 (Corona) to 2006 (Quickbird bandcombination 421)

Table 2: Analysis of changes in the area and perimeter of the Pallikaranai marsh since 2003@

Segment of the marsh Municipal Landfill

Year 2003 2005

Area (ha) 50.25* 57.54 58.75* 132.25 227.00 150.56 284.00 279.65 620.00 620.00

Perimeter (km) 5.785 6.046

Edge development 2.30 2.24

Area impacted by garbage/sewage Northern segment# Southern segment Total

2003 2005 2003 2005 2003 2005 2003 2005

12.11 7.6 9.327 11.8 c. 13.0 – c. 13.0 –

2.26 1.74 1.56 1.99

Edge development is calculated as the deviation of boundary/perimeter of the segment/polygon from the circumference of a circle that has the same area/extent. It is calculated as p/2 (3.14A); where p is the perimeter of the segment/ polygon in metres, A the area of the segment/polygon in square metres (1 ha = 10,000 sq. m); 3.14 = p. *50.25 + 58.75 = 109 ha recommended as the ‘critical zone’. # excludes garbage dump and the impacted area. @The 2003 map was based on details provided by IRS ID PAN + LISS III (March 2001), GPS Field Survey by NIOT (February 2003) and Survey of India toposheet of 1972.

Table 3: Change matrix of land use/cover in and around Pallikaranai Marsh (ha) highlighting subcategories, Oct. 2001- Oct. 2008
Land use/ cover R IND LiT IU WD BL WL OW C 2008 (ha) 3444,2 28,9 526,1 288,2 37,5 443,7 4768,6 23,4 95,9 167,5 7,5 23,3 5,6 19,0 342,1 47,3 4,6 57,9 267,3 5,3 75,5 457,6 1,5 71,3 97,6 8,3 7,3 22,0 19,1 227,4 64,5 1,0 12,4 77,9 9,1 576,1 31,1 17,6 215,3 849,0 11,3 36,1 412,6 217,7 0,0 677,6 0,4 10,3 12,2 447,7 20,4 491,0 2,4 1,9 2,4 0,8 67,7 75,3 R IND LiT IU WD PL WL OW C 2001 (ha) 3527,9 95,9 284,0 97,6 64,5 1224,2 1045,3 766,5 860,7 7966,5

R, Residential land; LiT, Land in Transition(Landfill/Construction sites); IU, Infrastructure and Utilities; WD, Waste Disposal; PL, Pasture Land; WL, Wetland; OW, Open Water (including Tanks, Buckingham canal and Okkyiam Maduvu); C, Cultivations; IND, Industries (IT, Industry/ Commercial

On April 9, 2007, 317 ha on the southern side of the Pallikaranai Marsh was declared as a Reserved Land under the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 and brought under the jurisdiction of the District Forest Officer – Kanchipuram. The current land use and land cover change of the Pallikaranai Marsh along with the area that comprises the Reserved Land and Depth of Water at select points within the marsh are depicted in the following map.

Map 3: Land Use –Land Cover Change in and around Pallikaranai Marsh (2008-2010)

7. Adaptive Management Plan for the Protection and Conservation of the Pallikaranai Marsh
A flexible, inclusive and knowledge based approach, which can be broadly designated as the ‘Adaptive Management Plan for the Conservation of Pallikaranai Marsh’ is being recommended for the protection and conservation of Pallikaranai Marsh in specific and the south Chennai Flood Plain in general. This plan accords equal consideration to people and nature, and in a manner is a reconciliation of conservation and development goals. The Adaptive Management Plan has been amongst others, been advocated by Prof Madhav Gadgil, member of the National Advisory Committee of the Government of India in many of the initiatives in the Western Ghats. (see Annexure 2). The guiding principle of this plan is hence: The ecology of Pallikaranai Marsh is sustained by the seasonal hydrology in general and the mixing of sea and freshwater in particular. As is well-known, freshwater wetlands that are in the stage of marshes are unstable as they eventually transform to grasslands and then to scrub and forests due to the semi-aquatic and terrestrial plants that over-run the habitat. It is only the mixing of seawater that sustains marshes as very few plants are adapted to living in saltwater systems and as they cannot survive elsewhere have evolved ‘life-styles’ that mutually sustain the ecosystem and the living communities of plants and animals that depend on them. In other words, the freshwater-salt marsh ecosystem is one that is delicately balanced in nature and is sustained by a set of equally fragile ecological communities. It is hence imperative that while the Pallikaranai Marsh is conserved in totality, the critical link to the Buckingham Canal and the Bay of Bengal through the Okkiyam Madavu needs to be strongly protected as well. It is also important that the ecosystem services provided by the marsh is recognized and accorded its due; with no further resident human foot print be allowed within the marsh (this includes staff quarters, offices, inspection chambers, ware houses, garages etc). One of the key inputs essential for the development of the plan is the baseline data on the system. It is quite evident that long term research data on many aspects of the marsh is available; and with further studies this could evolve into one of the most comprehensive data bases on natural systems anywhere in the world.

Based on the analysis of this compendium of data, the following components emerge as being critical to the protection and conservation of the Pallikaranai Marsh. The approximate financial outlay required for this is also indicated which has been estimated based on experiences from other states / projects: 1. Establishment of a Coordinating Agency 1.1 An umbrella agency Establishing a singular coordinating agency to overcome the lacuna of multiple and overlapping ownership /custodianship as well as mandates and functioning (see Annexure1 ) would facilitate an integrated approach of protecting and conserving Pallikarnai Marsh. The absence of such an agency contributes to a rather fragmented approach of prioritisaiton and land use. For instance, the management of water bodies is often under the purview of two state departments’ viz. Public Works and Forests. In addition to the fact that the two departments have rather distinct and parallel mandates, there is limited or negligible expertise of managing wetlands. The 11 Bird sanctuaries of the state bear testimony to this fact. 1.2 Multi-stakeholder engagement Further, in view of the fact that there are many title holders/custodians, largely government departments and agencies, of the marsh, as also the fact that further accession of the marsh to the Forest Department is not favoured (which would essentially entail a inviolate management of the marsh), the presence of a coordinating agency seems ideal. 1.3 Independent functioning This agency, whose constitution, authority and structure can be evolved, needs to be strongly supported with a scientific entity or group with proven, credible expertise in wetland conservation. It also needs to be supported with entities or groups that facilitate the involvement of the stakeholders – viz. resident welfare organisations, corporate bodies, infrastructure development bodies, educational institutions etc. Ideally, the agency could be headed by an independent chairperson (as in the case of similar

mechanisms that have been created elsewhere in the country at the state / central level. Examples include the Gujarat Ecological Society, State Biodiversity Board of Kerala etc)

State departments of Department of Environment Revenue and and Forests Land Administration District Collectorate Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority Chennai Corporation State department for Water and Resident sewage Welfare Organisatio ns Corporate bodies

Coordinating Agency

Independent Monitoring Group

Expert Support Group

Action Pathway

Monitorin g Pathway

Implementati on Team

The financial outlay required to enable this component is estimated as Rs 1.0 crore

2. Preparation of a Detailed Management Plan 2.1 The Coordinating agency should develop a Detailed Management Plan (that is flexible and adaptive) with well defined and tangible points of action and outputs. Major components of intervention are discussed in the following points; 2.2 On ground demarcation of the marsh On ground restoration work needs to begin with the survey and demarcation of the marsh, identifying and erecting boundary stones. This is critical given the fact that the area is a marsh and hence can be surveyed only during the dry season. A digitized map of the landscape could then be developed and used for implementing and monitoring future interventions. This exercise would ensure that encroachments are identified and appropriate action is taken. 2.3 Hydro-ecological assessment The first point of intervention should aim at protecting the ecological integrity of the marsh, as detailed in the guiding principle. This entails that a hydro-ecological assessment of the marsh is undertaken, with specific reference to precipitation rates and patterns; quantum of inflow, water recharge, drainage patterns etc. so that appropriate interventions and structures could be visualized and implemented. 2.4 Sedimentation studies The assessment also needs to result in a sediment map of the marsh, based on vertical profiling (for depths of >100 m) that will result in reliable data 2.5 Pollution Assessment (Air, Water and Soil) The assessment should also include aspects of contamination (organic and chemical) including presence and spatial distribution of pollutants. This assessment should also serve as a pointer to potential remedial measures. 2.6 Biodiversity Assessment A biodiversity assessment focusing on lower vertebrates and invertebrates needs to be undertaken, so that bio indicators for monitoring the restoration are identified. 2.7 Development of habitat zonation maps A habitat zonation map needs to be evolved to understand and develop zone specific interventions. For example, certain portions of the marsh may have to be given greater

attention in view of the higher levels of pollutants or in some portions of the marsh, a forced change of habitat may be essential. In essence, some parts of the marsh may have to protected, while others may have to be restored or conserved. 2.8 Two factors that have largely contributed to the decimation of the marsh are the landfill (of the Chennai Corporation) and the Sewage Disposal Facility of the CMSWB. While the landfill is meant to handle the solid waste that is generated by south Chennai, and some of the Panchayats in Kanchipuram district, the Sewage Disposal facility handles South Chennai and Alandur Municipality. Both the facilities have been under the scanner and a detailed discussion on the in effective functioning of these systems has been elaborated by the High Level Committee in 2009. 2.9 Evolving sustainable solid waste management The issue of improper handling of solid waste and sewage is global. When perceived as a problem that has long term and multifarious negative impacts, the issue has been handled rather successfully in many cities of the developing world. In Phillipines, for instance, a landfill was converted into an organic farm. In the Sunderbans, erstwhile landfills are being promoted as floriculture farms. 2.10 Streamlining Sewage Disposal The existing sewage treatment and disposal facility for South Chennai is located on the immediate periphery and within the Pallikaranai Marsh, A lesser known fact is that the large scale sewage treatment facility of the Alandur municipality is also located in the premises. It has been established by a number of studies and the High Level Committee on Pallikaranai Marsh that the facility is not only inadequate, but is also functioning in an ad hoc manner with improper procedures of discharge. 2.11 Eco-legislations Such plans need to be strengthened by strong legislative steps. For instance, source segregation of solid waste needs to be made mandatory and decentralized. Appropriate structures (such as dryers and gasifiers) need to be erected at the level of neighbourhoods or transfer stations. Composting needs to be perceived as an economical viable enterprise and launched. The financial outlay estimated for enabling Component 2 is approximately Rs. 2.4 crore. 3. Awareness Generation, Nature based Learning, Recreation and Capacity Building 3,1 Wetland Centre

The Pallikaranai Marsh has evoked unprecedented interest amongst students. There are about 40-45 studies on various aspects of the marsh by national and international institutions (for instance, the Oxford University, University of Freiburg, NORAD, School of Planning and Architechture). This interest offers an opportunity for establishing the country’s first dedicated wetland centre for learning and capacity building in wetland management.

3.2 Nature based Learning and Recreation In view of the biodiversity that the marsh harbours, there is an opportunity to include nature based learning in the wetland centre. A well designed interpretation (that is fluid in design and include elements such as walk bridges and pathways) centre could be also considered for the marsh. Elements that facilitate interactive learning such as digital boards, nature based games, depictive murals, walks facilitated through extended viewing decks and towers, viewing telescopes, aquaria, night-vision cameras and camera traps could be installed to evolve the centre into a hub where nature based awareness could be imparted in an inclusive manner. 3.3 Development of resource compendium One of the oft stated lacunae in India on nature based learning initiatives is the absence of a dedicated and sustained interactive programme on nature. That this is a specialized sphere of activity that calls for experts in pedagogy, ecology and visual communication needs to be factored into the planning and implementation aspects of the Pallikaranai Wetland Centre. 3.4 Eco livelihoods One of the means by which continued engagement of stakeholders is enabled is through active involvement as nature guides, patrol groups and development of related livelihoods. 3.5 Participatory Monitoring Mechanism The use of technology, in view of the proximity to the IT Corridor and resident Companies, for monitoring various aspects of the marsh, including bird watching, is recommended. This would also ensure that the human foot print is restricted to the periphery of the marsh.

3.6

Ramsar Site Nomination

The Pallikaranai Marsh, by the virtue of its bird, fish and amphibian diversity is an ideal candidate for declaration as a Ramsar Site, under the Ramsar Convention of which India is a signatory. This is a legally binding mechanism for the protection of important wetlands by the national governments. A wetland so notified not only enjoys a protected status, but is treated as a national asset and specific charters for the protection; conservation and promotion of the wetland are evolved. Notable examples of such sites in India include the Wular Lake and the Chilka Complex in Orissa, and Pallikaranai Marsh if brought under the network of Ramsar sites would be the first site for Tamil Nadu, as well as the first Marsh for peninsular India. The fact that Pallikaranai Marsh supports over 100 species of birds, of which 5 are in the endangered list for Indian Birds as well as a number of fishes and amphibians renders it as a potential candidate for Ramsar Convention. The financial outlay for Component 3 would be Rs. 6.0 crore.

Annexures
Annexure 1

Annexure 2 In fact, the emerging scientific understanding of complex systems tells us that a centralized, inflexible approach to management of living resources cannot be expected to work. The history of the wetland of Keoladev Ghana at Bharatpur in Rajasthan, home to numerous species of resident and migratory water birds illustrates this very well. The well-known ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali and his co-workers have spent decades studying this ecosystem. As a result of this work, Dr Salim Ali was convinced that the ecosystem would benefit as a water bird habitat by the exclusion of buffalo grazing. Government accepted this recommendation, and, with the constitution of a National Park in 1982, all grazing was banned. The result was a complete surprise. In the absence of buffaloes, a grass, Paspalum grew unchecked and choked the wetland, rendering it a far poorer habitat for the water birds. Scientists therefore advocate that ecosystem management must be flexible and at all times ready to make adjustments on the basis of continual monitoring of on-going changes. In contrast, the Government authorities made a rigid decision to permanently ban all grazing and minor forest produce collection from Keoladev Ghana, and having once committed themselves have felt obliged to continue the ban, even though it has become clear that buffalo grazing, in fact, helps enhance habitat quality for the water birds. The emerging scientific philosophy therefore is to shift from such an inflexible system involving uniform prescriptions to a regime embodying systematic experimentation with more fine tuned prescriptions. Under such a regime, stoppage of grazing would have been tried out in one portion of the wetland, the effects monitored and the ban on grazing either extended or withdrawn depending on the consequences observed. This would be a flexible, knowledge based approach, a system of “adaptive management” appropriate to the new information age. Madhav Gadgil, 2005 in his preamble to the Peoples’ Biodiversity Register for enabling the Biodiversity Act and Rules (2002)

Acknowledgements
With Inputs from Jayshree Vencatesan Ranjit Daniels, Axel Drescher, Rudiger Glaser, Constanze Pfeiffer, Marco Lechner, Johann Apfelbacher, N. Muthu Karthick, C Arivazhagan, G Das, Anu Priya and Tahir Zoheb