Monday rains may have brought some relief to the city, but as the city continues to face water shortage, Pallikaranai has come to the rescue of birds seeking food and water as bird watchers claim that a good number of birds, including migratory ones, have been visiting it.
Speaking about the influx of birds, Seshan Erumalai, an avid bird watcher said, “The northern side of the marshland has degraded owing to waste from Perungudi, but the southern side has abundant plankton which the flamingos feed on.”
With the development of the IT corridor in Taramani, adjoining Perungudi being used as a landfill, and Velachery and Kanchanchavadi being developed for human settlement, the marshland — which used to extend to 5,000 hectares — has now shrunk to mere 930 hectares.
“Despite this, we have noted the visit of 176 species of birds, including both residential and migratory birds, between 2010 and 2019,” said KVRK Thirunaranan, the founder of Nature’s Trust.
Kumaran Sadasivam, a member of Madras Naturalist Society, said that though the marshland is polluted, it comprises two types of waste – chemical and biological. “While the chemical pollutants, bio-medical and industrial waste degrade the soil, the waste segregated by the household contains biodegradable components and nutrients such as phosphate and nitrates that enrich the soil for aquatic plants, thus resulting in healthier food chain by producing worms and centipedes that the birds can feed on,” he said.
An official from the Forest Department said on condition of anonymity, “After the department took over the marshland, encroachments and pollution have reduced. We are making sure that there are no more encroachments and the Corporation does not extend the dump yard.”
But, according to naturalist Murugavel, the increase in the number of flamingos could also mean their habitat elsewhere is being destroyed. “This does not mean that Pallikaranai is a healthier ecosystem,” he said.