A few days ago, during the incessant rain and floods in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India, a little boy wanted 100 rupees to buy food for his family who had not eaten for two days. He prayed to God. When nothing happened and no one officially came to help them, he decided to write a request letter to God.
A puzzled post office staff on seeing the letter addressed to God forwarded it to the Chief Minister.
The amused Chief Minister thought that 100 rupees would be a lot of money for a little boy to buy food. So, she instructed her secretary to send the little boy 30 rupees instead from the Chief Minister’s relief fund.
When the little boy received the money he was delighted. He wrote the following ‘Thank you’ letter to the CM:
“Dear God, I thank you for sending me money through the Chief Minister’s Office Secretariat in Chennai. However, I would like you to know that corrupt asses there must have swindled 70 rupees as their commission! “
Young Ashutosh Tripathi wanted to join the army, but his parents would not allow it. So, in 2011, he opted for journalism. Soon he realized that he was in the worst profession as some people who had taken to journalism as a career were earning as low as ₹ 2000 per month. However, some seniors encouraged him and said that someday he will feel glad that he chose the media, the fourth pillar of democracy, as his vocation.
Saturday, October 10, 2015, proved to be the lucky day for the news hungry Ashutosh. In the morning, while having breakfast at an eatery near the General Post Office (GPO) in Lucknow, he saw police sub-inspector Pradeep Kumar violating traffic rules by riding a motorbike on the bicycle track. He then saw the police officer kick a milk container of a vendor selling tea on the pavement. The budding journalist thought the action of the policeman was newsworthy.
When the sub-inspector started threatening the vendors and others plying their trade on the pavement outside the GPO and ordered them to leave, Ashutosh started clicking his camera for he wanted to expose the brutality of the Lucknow Police.
While everyone left, the 65-year-old Kishan Kumar, a frail typist who has been doing Hindi typing outside the General Post Office for the past 35 years was slow to leave. The irate police officer kicked the old man’s typewriter.
With tears flowing down his cheeks, the elderly man collected the parts of his typewriter and tried to put them together. The sub-inspector then snatched the typewriter from the poor man who then with folded hands besieged the officer to spare his machine. But the arrogant policeman threw it on the road smashing it.
Sobbing, with tears hiding his sight, the old typist started collecting the pieces of his mangled typewriter.
When the sub-inspector saw Ashutosh taking photos of the incident he objected and ordered him to delete them. Ashutosh was bold and interjected. He asked the police officer how he could do this to an elderly citizen. The sub-inspector told him not to teach him but to do his job.
As Ashutosh continued taking photos, the stubborn sub-inspector told Ashutosh that he could show the photos to anyone and even posed for him.
Ashutosh comforted the sobbing elderly typist who told him the machine was completely damaged and it was the source of his income.
Ashutosh Tripathi wrote the story for the newspaper Dainik Bhaskar where he worked. He also shared the story on Facebook hoping someone might take note of the incident and get the typewriter of the old man repaired.
After a while when Ashutosh logged into Facebook he saw his story had gone viral. Ashutosh’s brother tweeted the photos on Twitter which many celebrities retweeted.
Akhilesh Yadav, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, took note of this incident and ordered the suspension of the sub-inspector. He offered financial help for Kishan Kumar and gave orders to replace the damaged typewriter.
Mr. Rajesh Pandey, SSP and Mr. Raj Shekhar, the District Magistrate of Lucknow met Kishan in person and tendered an apology for the police officer’s misbehaviour. They also presented him a new typewriter.
On Monday, two days after the incident, Kishan Kumar was threatened over the phone. The caller said that he had done a “bad thing”. After the threat call, the police have provided the necessary security to Kishan Kumar and are probing the threat call.
The family Saturniidae, known as saturniids, include the largest species of moths. They belong to the order Lepidoptera, with an estimated 2,300 described species worldwide. The saturniids include such Lepidoptera as the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), the polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) also known as the giant Silkmoth, the imperial moth (Eacles imperialis), and the regal moth (Citheronia regalis) also called the royal walnut moth.
While the saturniids are lightweights compared to other insects, they can grow to some impressive sizes. The adult saturniids are large in size, with their heavy bodies covered in hairlike scales and lobed wings. The hind wings overlap the forewings, giving the effect of an unbroken wing surface. They have small heads with reduced mouth parts. Some species are often colored bright, which may mislead first-time observers to refer to them as butterflies. Female are larger and weigh more than the males. In general, the males have a larger, broader antennae.
Today, I came across the above video of an Atlas moth, found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia and the Malay archipelago.
Atlas moths have large wingspans about 10 inches across (25cm). A record specimen of the tropical Atlas moth from Java measured 10.3 inches (262 mm), with a surface area of 62 square inches (400 square cm).
While skimming the internet, I came across the following lines in Chinese:
Bùzhī héshí chuāng biān fēi lái zhè zhī bùsùzhīkè zhǎnkāi de chìbǎng xiàng shì shuāng tóu shé xǐhuān de rén huòxǔ juédé tā hěn měi cóngxiǎo jiù duì é lèi jìng’éryuǎnzhī dì zìjǐ què zhǐ gǎn mī zhuó yǎnjīng bù gǎn zhèngshì ne – shétóu é, sānyì
I do not know when the window flew only uninvited guest Spread wings like a two-headed snake Like people may think it is beautiful I grew up on the moths themselves at arm’s length But only dared to squint afraid to face it
– Snakeheads moth, Sanyi
Though the name Atlas moths derived from either the Titan of Greek mythology for their gigantic size or their map-like wing patterns seems appropriate, the Chinese name 蛇頭蛾 (shétóué) meaning “snakeheads moth” is more pertinent in referring to the outer tips of the spread wings that look like a two-headed snake.
Though the name Atlas moths derived from either the Titan of Greek mythology for their gigantic size or their map-like wing patterns seems appropriate, the Chinese name 蛇頭蛾 (shétóué) meaning “snakeheads moth” is more pertinent in referring to the outer tips of the wings that look like the head of a snake.
Life Cycle of the Atlas moth
The Atlas moths are wobbly fliers. After emerging from the cocoon, the female does not stray far from her discarded cocoon. She seeks a perch conducive for the air currents to carry the strong pheromones released by her. The male Atlas moths sensing the pheromones with the chemoreceptors located on their large feathery antennae home in on the sexually passive female.
After mating, the female Atlas moth lays many spherical eggs about 2.5 mm in diameter on the undersides of leaves.
About two weeks later, dusty-green caterpillars adorned with fleshy spines along their backs covered in a waxy white substance hatch from the eggs.
The caterpillars feed voraciously on the foliage of certain citrus trees. Alternative recorded foodplants include leaves of apple, ash, cherry, lilac, plum, willows, and other evergreen trees.
On reaching a length of about 4.5 inches (115 mm), the caterpillars pupate within a papery cocoon interwoven into desiccated leaves. The adult moths emerge after about four weeks.
Imago – the adult stage
After spending about a month in their cocoons, Atlas Moths emerge as beautiful, sexually mature winged creatures. Unfortunately, this imago stage is short-lived and the moths die within a week or two after spreading their wings.
The following video shows in detail the development of the Atlas Moths: the hatched larvae from eggs, the various stages of the caterpillar, molting, pupating, and the emergence of the adult Atlas moth.
The cocoons of the Atlas Moths serve as purses in Taiwan.
Some sericulturists in India cultivate Atlas moths for their silk. Unlike the silk produced by the Silkworm moth (Bombyx mori), the brown, wool-like silk secretes as broken strands from the cocoons of the Atlas moth. This silk known as fagara silk seems to have greater durability.
The centuries-old Hindu, Buddhist and Jain scriptures trace the use of footwear in India way back to 200 BC. Coins of the Kushan period (130 BC to 185 AD) and the Gupta period (320 to 550 AD) feature kings wearing boots.
From ancient times, wearing leather footwear was taboo in India because the Hindus consider the cow as sacred; and so, the use of sandals made of wood, plant fibres, and metals was in vogue.
In the 11th century Sun temple at Modhera, Gujarat, the sun god wears a distinctive West Asian belt and lengthy footwear. And, in the 13th century Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya in the state of Bihar in India, the presiding deity Dakshinaarka, the Sun God wears a jacket, a waist girdle and high boots in the Iranian tradition.
The term paduka is a compound word made up of two Sanskrit words Namely, “pada” (foot) and “ka“, a diminutive ending literally meaning “small”.
The paduka has a sole with a post and knob. The wearer of the paduka grips the post and knob between their big and second toe to keep the foot in place.
Since the paduka do not have straps of any kind to keep them adhered to the feet, it must have been difficult to walk wearing them. The wearers would have dragged their feet along the ground accompanied by funny movements of their hips.
Fine teak, ebony and sandalwood went into the making of the paduka for the affluent embellished with leather and fur. Large floral and leaf motifs were carved and embedded or inlaid with beads, stones, crystals, ivory, and metals such as copper, bronze and iron.
The paduka took on a variety of forms such as the actual shape of feet, or of fish (a symbol of fertility and plenty in India), or animals.
In ancient times, decorated and expensive paduka formed a part of an Indian bride’s trousseau.
Some commoners too wore paduka, but of a simpler design.
Even today, a few Hindu and Jain ascetics and mendicants wear the paduka.
Some masochistic Hindu ascetics wore spiked paduka for inflicting pain on themselves as an aid to performing penance.
Paduka in Hindu mythology
On certain occasions, the paduka became the object of veneration in Hindu mythology. It is significant in the epic Ramayana.
Queen Kaikeyi, mother of Bharata, at the behest of Manthara, the ugly hunchbacked, antagonistic maid, beseeched her husband, King Dasaratha to exile her step son Rama, whom she loved dearly, for 14 years and crown her own son Bharata as prince-regent.
Prince Rama, his consort princess Sita, and his step-brother, prince Laksmana went into a forest to spend their period of exile. But the good prince Bharata, who loved his older step-brother Rama, did not want to become the prince-regent. So, he met Rama on his way to the deep forest and entreated him to return to Ayodhya. When Rama told Bharata that he will return only after completing his fourteen years in the forest, Bharata requested Rama to give him his paduka to serve as an object of veneration for the subjects of the kingdom.
Bharata carried Rama’s pair of paduka with great reverence by placing them on his head as a mark of respect and obedience to his elder brother. Bharata installed Rama’s pair of paduka on the throne and ruled the kingdom of Kosala as Rama’s proxy.
High-heeled footwear now known as platforms did not come into our lives in the 1970’s. Our ancestors wore them in India several centuries before.
At the archaeological site at Chandraketugarh, about 35 km north-east of Kolkata, footwear with raised heel and floral motifs used around 200 BC were found.
The sculpture at the Ramappa Temple in Warangal
The Ramalingeswara temple also known as Ramappa gudi is located 77 km from Warangal and 157 km from Hyderabad. Here one can find 850 years old sculptures.
The above sculpture in the Ramappa Temple exemplifies the fact that fashionable ladies in India wore high-heeled paduka.
The elevated paduka must have helped the ladies to give the illusion that they were much taller than what they were!
Again, there could have been a more practical reason – to keep their feet and clothing clean!
The elevated paduka must have helped the ladies to give the illusion that they were much taller than what they were!
Again, there could have been a more practical reason; maybe to keep their feet and clothing clean!
By the way, from ancient times, Sudras, the low caste people in India, were not allowed to wear any type of footwear on public roads. They had to carry them in their hands. One can see this phenomenon even now in many villages in India.
Lepakshi is a small village in the Anantapur District in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is about 9 miles (15 km) east of Hindupur and about 75 miles (120 km) north of Bangalore.
This village is historically and archaeologically significant. It has three shrines dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra built during the period of Vijayanagara Kings (1336–1646).
The famous 16th-century Veerabhadra stone temple constructed in Vijayanagar style has about 70 pillars, but only one of these pillars is best known as the Aakaasa Sthambha (Hanging Column). It is a tribute to the engineering genius of the temple builders of medieval India. The pillar does not rest on the ground fully.
A cloth can slide smoothly underneath this Hanging pillar.
During the British era, a British engineer tried to move it to uncover the secret of its support. His attempt was unsuccessful and the pillar got slightly dislodged from its original position.
In the early hours of August 8, 2015, around 6:30 am, a walking group called “Twalkers” saw a mother and her daughter carrying a travelling bag at the Anna University Campus in Chennai,
The Twalkers saw them still standing in the same spot when they came around the second time. They inquired why they were standing there in the early hours.
Thangaponnu, the mother told them that she was a shepherdess from Musiri, a Panchayat town in the Tiruchirapalli district. Her daughter R. Swathi had scored 1017/1200 marks in her Plus Two examinations. After applying for entrance to B.Sc. Agriculture course, her daughter had been asked to come to Anna Arangam, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, to attend the counseling session ahead of the admissions process to B. Sc. Agriculture, scheduled to start at 8:30 am. She showed the letter received by her daughter from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU).
On scrutinizing that letter, the Twalkers saw the mistake. TNAU had directed Swathi to present herself at The Anna Arangam, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, in Coimbatore, but some people had inadvertently misdirected them to Anna University, Chennai.
When the mother and daughter realized their mistake, they lost hope of reaching Coimbatore in time because the distance between Chennai and Coimbatore by road is 533 km (331 miles) and would take around 8 hours to travel.When the mother and daughter realized the mistake, they lost hope.
Since the counseling was to start at 8.30 a.m. in Coimbatore, the Twalkers decided to help the girl and her mother reach Coimbatore by air flight. The Twalkers decided to share the flight cost of ₹10,500.
Some Twalkers teaching at the Anna University, spoke to TNAU registrar C.R. AnandaKumar, and explained to him the situation and asked for extra time for the girl candidate.
The Twalkers brought breakfast for the girl and her mother.
Once the flight tickets were booked and confirmed, the Twalkers took Swathi and her mother to the Chennai airport to board the 10:05 am Coimbatore flight.
The flight Swathi and her mother were on landed at 11:28 am in Coimbatore. Arrangements were made to pick them at the Coimbatore airport. They reached the TNAU counseling venue by 12:15 pm.
Around 2:00 pm Swathi got admitted to B.Tech. (Biotechnology).
Swathi and her mother are now planning to visit Chennai again soon to meet the Twalkers who had spontaneously helped and thank them. The mother said that they would return the money the Twalkers had spent to buy their flight tickets.
Sometimes back I came across on Facebook the following thought-provoking conversation between a father and his son working for an IT company. It was in Tamil. I have embellished it for your reading pleasure.
Dad: “By the way, what do people working in IT companies do?”
Son: “Why do you ask?”
Dad: “Because I see them strutting about like the peacocks – aloof and serious.”
Son: “Appa (Dad), do you include me also in your remark?”
Dad: “In a way, yes. Is it because you guys earn hefty salaries?”
Son: “Appa, these westerners, especially the Americans, want everything done in a jiffy. And, for this, they are ready to spend any amount.”
Dad: “Yes. Yes. Loaded as they are, they can afford to spend on such things.”
Son: Almost all companies and banks in the US, UK, and other European countries are ready to spend any amount to develop software to do this thing or that thing. We call them ‘clients’.”
Son: “The IT companies have their offices and personnel in those countries to sniff out such clients who are ready to dole out heavy amounts. We call such personnel ‘Pre-Sales Consultants’, ‘Sales Consultants, etc.”
Dad: “What do your sniffers do?”
Son: “On approaching a potential client, our consultants will first introduce our company. They will highlight the pros where we excel more than our competitors.”
Dad: “So, your consultants will cast the bait and wait for the fish to bite!”
Son: “Yes. While nibbling the bait, the potential client will ask 1001 questions. They will want to know whether we can do this, do that and so on.”
Son: “Our Consultants will assert that our programmers can develop whatever they want. They will eulogize the members of our IT personnel as demigods who can create any kind of software for quick and efficient conduct of their business.”
Dad: “Then, you are a demigod?”
Son: “Hired as consultants at exorbitant salaries, it is their duty to say so.”
Dad: “What educational qualifications should a consultant have?”
Son: “Most of them are highly qualified MBA, MS, and such other degree holders.”
Dad: “What! Do you need people with such high qualifications to just say ‘can do’?”
Son: “Yes. Their qualifications carry much-needed weight to inveigle a potential client.”
Dad: “And then what? Will the potential client transform into a loyal client?”
Son: “Appa, it is a bit difficult to predict. There is a lot of competition in the IT field. Like our firm, other IT companies in India and other eastern countries too would have approached the potential client.
Dad: “So, how will you secure the project?”
Son: “Here comes the power of persuasion. Our consultants will promise the potential client that members of our software development team being demigods would complete their project in 60 days what in reality would take more than a year to complete.”
Dad: “How can a project that would take a year to complete be accomplished in just two months? Would it be possible even if they work 24 hours a day? Doesn’t the promise amount to cheating?”
Son: “I won’t call it cheating because, during those 60 days, the client would be hazy about what the real needs are, neither will we be. Even so, we will deliver ‘a completed project’ in 60 days.”
Dad: “Then what will happen?”
Son: “The client will moan and say ‘This is not what we wanted’. They will then demand that we incorporate this, that, and so forth.”
Dad: “And, then…”
Son: “Our consultants will ask them to raise a ‘CR’.”
Dad: “A CR?”
Son: “Change Request.”
Dad: “What does that mean?”
Son: “Our consultants will tell the client that during the stipulated 60 days our company had accomplished work for the amount paid, and if the client requires anything else, then the client will have to pay extra.”
Dad: “Will the client agree?”
Son: “Yes. The client has to agree. Can you face the world with a half-done haircut?”
Dad: “Ok. Now tell me what your company does once they secure a project.”
Son: “First, we will form a team for the project. A Project Manager will head the team.”
Dad: “That means, the person appointed as the Project Manager will know every aspect of that project.”
Son: “Not at all. The Project Manager knows nothing of what the programmers under him do.”
Dad: “If so, what is his work?”
Son: “If any of us make a mistake, we will point our finger at the Project Manager. He is the proverbial Redeemer, ‘The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world‘, the martyr, and the scapegoat. He is always under stress wondering who in the team might be next trying to bury him. “
Dad: “Poor fellow.”
Son: “The success or failure of a project is in the hands of the Project Manager. If it is a success, the team gets the accolade, but if it fails, then he gets the boot. “
Dad: “I pity the poor soul.”
Son: “If we have any problems, we approach him.”
Dad: “Will he solve your problems?”
Son: “What! Solve our problems? Never. The company pays him to shake his head in the affirmative and mumble, ‘I fully understand your problem‘. It’s like you shake your head before Amma (mom).”
Dad: “I am glad to know that you at least accept me as the manager of this house. Carry on.”
Son: “Under the Project Manager are the Tech Lead, Model Lead, Program Developers, Software Testers, etc.)”
Dad: “You come under the category of…”
Son: “Developer. Most developers are from Tamilnadu, Andhra, and Karnataka.”
Dad: “What do the Testers do?”
Son: “The sole object of the Testers is to find fault with the work of the developers.”
Dad: “What! Your company pays Testers to find fault in the work of others?”
Dad: “So, with the combined efforts of all these staff, the project would be easy to complete, isn’t it?”
Son: “It’s not so. Only the developers and the testers work. Others, from my point of view, just idle.”
Dad: “Will you complete the project before the due date?”
Son: “Of course not. It would be a shame if we complete the work by the due date and it would rather be better to commit suicide because the management would think the work is just simple and start the process of retrenching.”
Dad: “But, won’t the client question the company about the time lag in completing the project?”
Son: “Yes. The client will! But, we will counter the client by saying, the computers they gave us were dusty; their staff coughed during the team meets infecting our staff; inclement weather; unpleasant working environment; toilets not clean; cobwebs on the ceiling, etc., and flabergast the client.”
Dad: “And then…”
Son: “The confused client, with no other option left, will give us some more time to finish the project.”
Dad: “And will you complete the project in time and hand it over to the client?”
Son: “Not at all. If we do that, then half the computer savvy people in our country will have to beg on the streets.”
Son: “A few weeks before handing over the completed project, we will stage a scene before the client. We will throw a hint that we had accomplished something stupendous in our project that only our developers could understand and manage.”
Son: “Like a new bride, the flabergasted client will beg us to not to leave and will request us to provide them a few of our developers who could stay with them to run and take care of the project. This additional process called ‘Maintenance and Support‘ will be an ongoing project for years to come.”
Dad: “Now, I understand the workings and strategies of an IT company. It’s not only marrying a woman, but also maintaining her for an indefinite period in the future!”
Mumbai: The Indian cricket board on Thursday denied the reports that they had restricted the WAGs (wives and girlfriends) of Indian cricketer during the away tours, according to reports.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India were contemplating to ban the players’ partners during the foreign tours. The rationale was that the Indian cricketers’ performance was getting affected by the presence of WAGs.
While the BCCI had allowed the wives of Ashwin, Vijay, Pujara, Binny and Gambhir to travel with them, the Indian cricket board had approved Virat Kohli’s request to allow Anushka Sharma to travel with him, reports.
Why am I interested in wetlands and writing about them?
Because I am concerned.
My home in Jalladianpet in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai wetland. Now, this once pristine idyllic wetland and many other smaller wetlands, pasture lands and patches of dry forest in Chennai are being transformed into concrete jungles!
That is why I am concerned.
I am not an environmentalist per se. I am just a layman. I seek protection of our natural environment from changes made by harmful human activities. I yearn for improvement in the quality of our surroundings worldwide for the benefit of our present and future generations.
The Pallikarani wetland serves as nature’s primary aquifer recharge system for Chennai city. It harvests rainwater and the flood water during monsoons and thereby mitigates the desolation and suffering that floods could cause in low-lying areas in Chennai.
Four decades ago, this pristine idyllic wetland had a water spread of approximately 5,500 hectares estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and CORONA aerial photographs (1965).
Lamentably, over the years, the Chennai Metropolitan authorities without giving any thought to the future recklessly chose to dump almost 2,600 tonnes of garbage per day, which is over one-third of the garbage of the ever-growing metropolis, here in this climatic marshland.
Now, the water spread has shrunk to one-tenth its size due to indiscriminate dumping of city refuse; discharging of sewage; disgorging toxic waste products, etc.
Many nature lovers have photographed the current palpable and saddening state of the Pallikaranai wetland. On June 8, 2013, The Hindu published the article “The mired marsh” by Shaju John. He has augmented his article with photographs captured by him in the post-Photo file: The mired marsh.
Thousands of tonnes of trash of all sorts containing non-biodegradable waste find their way to the wetland amidst the dumped refuse each day.
While traveling along the roads around the Velachery wetland one encounters the unbearable stench emanating from the decaying garbage hillock. Despite the widespread clamour to stop burning rubbish in the dump yard that stifles the air and impairs visibility of commuters, the incessant burning goes on.
Despite the toxic smoke rag-pickers, mostly children living in inhospitable slums, frequent the garbage dumps.
Air samples from the Perungudi garbage dumping yard registered the highest number of chemicals found in any Indian sample. The air contained cancer-causing and other harmful chemicals.
People living miles around the Pallikaranai wetland continually inhale the omnipresent malodorous virulent air. They suffer the stifling smoke. They have no other alternative than to use the polluted and poisoned ground water. These factors subject them to major wheezing and carcinogenic health hazards.
On June 15, 2012, a concerned Jaison Jeeva uploaded the following video on YouTube. It shows the fire accident that happened at the garbage dumps in Pallikaranai. The incident caused physical and mental disturbance to the people in the vicinity.
There is an incredible rate of development in the Pallikaranai wetland. The sanctioning of many IT parks has resulted in countless high-rise office and residential buildings.
The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and CR Sivapradha)
Dr. Kamakshi Memorial Hospital, Pallikaranai, Chennai (Source: drkmh.com)
Sree Balaji Dental College and Hospital, Velachery – Tambaram main road, Narayanapuram, Pallikaranai, Chennai (Source: sbdch.ac.in)
Jerusalem College of Engineering, Velachery – Tambaram main road, Narayanapuram, Pallikaranai, Chennai (Source: eceincendio.com)
The campus of the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Engineering and Dental Colleges, and Hospitals have been built on the marshland.
All these encroachments have led to building infrastructures such as the Velachery MRTS railway station, the flyovers, the road connecting old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram, etc., in the midst of the marshland.
Sadly, all these rampant developments have shrunk the water spread.
With policies in place to crack down on encroachment, illegal waste disposal, and poaching, there is still hope for saving the Pallikaranai wetland.
In 2007, to protect the remaining wetland from shrinking further, 317 hectares of the marsh were declared by notification as a reserve forest by the State of Tamilnadu.
Even so, it is the opinion of the scientists and researchers involved in the study of the wetland that an additional 150 hectares of undeveloped region located on both sides of the road connecting old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh should also be declared a forest reserve.
An official release on Friday, June 9, 2006 the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) underscores the need to protect the rare species of fauna and flora in the ecologically important wetland of Chennai.
To retain the groundwater recharging potential the TNPCB banned the dumping of garbage and discharge of sewage and industrial effluents into the Pallikaranai marshland. The TNPCB directive states that untreated sewage should be discharged only into the sewage treatment plant operated by Metrowater at Perungudi. The TNPCB warned that violators of its directions would be Penalized without prior notice under section 15 (1) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
On June 10, 2006, The Hindu in an article titled “Dumping banned in Pallikaranai marsh” said:
The punishment under this section involves imprisonment for a term, which may extend to five years or with fine, which may extend to Rs.1 lakh, or both. In cases of repeated violation, the penalty involves additional fine, which may extend to Rs. 5,000 for every day during which the contravention occurs, after the conviction for the first violation.
Further, if the violation continues beyond a period of one year after the date of first conviction, the offender is liable to be imprisoned for a term that may extend to seven years. According to the press note, the basis of the directive is a routine inspection of the Perungudi dump site and the marsh zone by the TNPCB, which found that unsegregated garbage along with other wastes emptied into the marshland by the Chennai Corporation and other local bodies as well as private agencies. This garbage is burnt by ragpickers, causing nuisance to the residential areas and setting off air-pollution. The inspection also observed that untreated sewage collected from nearby areas in tanker lorries was being discharged into the marshland.
The TNPCB has also constituted a Local Area Environment Committee to protect the marsh. The public can refer any complaint on discharge of sewage or solid wastes into the marsh area by any agencies to this committee through the District Environmental Engineer, TNPCB, Tambaram (Phone 22266239). The Pollution Control Board’s announcement comes just days after a non-governmental initiative released the results of a recent study on air quality.
In April 2008, the Madras High Court directed the State Government of Tamilnadu to remove all encroachments on the Pallikaranai marshlands. The Madras High Court also directed the Chennai Corporation not to allow the four municipalities – Pallavaram, Madipakkam, Kottivakkam and Valasaravakkam – to dump garbage at Perungudi after April 30, 2008.
On April 3, 2008, The Hindu in an article titled “Court directive on Perungudi garbage dump” said:
Passing interim orders on two writ petitions, the Bench said the State Government should not permit any construction activity on the marshlands. The court appointed a six-member expert committee, with Sheela Rani Chunkath, Chairperson, TIIC, as its convener to inspect the Perungudi Municipal Solid Waste Yard, CMWSSB treatment plant and the surrounding areas and submit a report regarding the suitability of the present site for usage and the continuance as a municipal solid waste ground and sewage treatment plant; to review compliance of various legislations, guidelines, rules and regulations in relation to dumping of solid waste and discharge of sewage; to review the earlier studies done by various agencies, and the measures taken and proposed to protect the Pallikaranai marsh and render suggestions for restoration and protection of the marsh.
The committee would also suggest measures for remediation of the land, ground water, flora and fauna in the marsh and Seevaram, Pallikaranai, Thoraipakkam and Perungudi villages. It would also consider the cumulative aspects of dumping of garbage, discharge of sewage and conversion of the marshlands to other use and suggest scientific alternative methods of dumping of garbage and discharge of sewage in the light of the methods in other countries.
The committee would conduct public hearing to ascertain the views of the residents of the four villages. The report should be made within six months, the Bench said.
Pending receipt of the report, the Chennai Corporation was directed not to permit their trucks to dump garbage on either side of the road and to remove the garbage already dumped on either side of 60 Feet Road abutting the residential areas and also the 200 feet road, within four weeks. It should demarcate the area of 200 acres which had been allotted to it by CMWSSB and further demarcate 106 acres which was actually used for dumping waste. Security at the dumping site should be increased to prevent incidents of fire. Appropriate scheme for segregating biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes should be evolved and submitted to the court within three months.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board in its report in respect of the landfill at Perungudi submitted that the Chennai Corporation had not complied with the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000.
Seven years have passed since then, but even now, dumping of garbage and sewage in the Pallikaranai marshland by the Chennai metropolitan authorities goes on unabated.