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Birthdays on Wetlands of Chennai can be Risky!

By: Sehaj Sahni

03. 12. 2015: 12:01 AM: Chennai: It was dark and dingy! There was no power. There was no food. There was no mobile signal. The phone died that night before I could think anything close to receiving my birthday greetings from my wellwishers including my family members staying 2500 km away. Oh Yes! This is the scene of my birthday eve in the year 2015. 

The Hindu

The incessant rains filled the streets of Sri Sai Nagar and MCN Nagar within a day( residential colonies adjacent to the Pallikarnai wetland); while it seemed we are sitting in the middle of a swimming pool with no drainage system in place in either of these colonies made near a high-risk Pallikarnai marshland.

The Big IT buildings including Chennai One IT Park, a property encroachment beside the wetlands also did not get spared; with business operations shut down and water creating an apparent pool near the reception. The very next day, boats charging heavy amounts were quick enough to make the business sense helping young migrant IT workers and students from all over the country ferry off their respective PGs. The purified water barrel priced at 20 INR on regular occasions cost more than 300 INR for 20 liters can. 

Looking back at December 2015 flash floods; it still gives me chills! Apparently, later I got to know that it was climate change at it’s best. This resulted in making me understand the implications of encroaching natural ecosystems and unsustainable development that can devastate the surrounding areas within a matter of 24-48 hours.

Not just that, but the psychological shocks that common people go through is something that we need to be aware of all the times in today’s rampant congestion of cities. 

Even after several restoration efforts, the situation is more or less the same with a huge landfill (right across the street where once upon a time; birds from the arctic region used to hang out during the summers) showcasing the ever-growing unsegregated urban waste fast filling up the land pockets and also ensuring the gradual degradation of the ecosystem of South India’s one of the rarest wetlands. 

My next birthday is right around the corner and I am concerned. Would you care to get me out of this anxious state?

(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Let Me Breathe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

Sehaj Sahni

Sehaj Sahni

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