|Save Vattamalai Odaikkarai Wetland|
|Written by osai|
- A Roosting Site for above 10000 wetland birds
With ever increasing pressure on wetlands and water bodies in the state, yet another issue has recently caught the eyes of environmentalists here. Recently a tender was released by the state government for cutting down Prosopis juliflora (an invasive flora) in a 206 hectare area which serves as an ideal habitat for many birds and mammals at the Vattamalai Odaikarai Dam region near Vellakoil in Tirupur District. This drew a strong opposition from the local people of the Vattamalai region and a one day fasting was observed by the people at Vellakoil, as a show of opposition for the tender and cutting down of these trees.
To know more about the issue and to study the possible environmental impact, OSAI team visited the Vattamalai Odaikarai Dam and the surrounding Thorny Bush Ecosystem. After meeting the local people and making a thorough study in the region, finally we came to a conclusion that this tender if implemented would have a devastating effect on the birds, animals & environment in the vicinity. The following were the observations made.
Vattamalai Odaikarai Dam is a 206 hectare waterbody located in the outskirts of Vellakoil, a town in Tirupur District. In the years between 1974-78 a dam was constructed across the waterbody by the then Tamilnadu Government as a source of water for irrigation to the adjacent agricultural lands. But ever since the construction of the dam, only once the dam had overflowed as per the local people. Also it was found that the waterbody had no source of inflow water, as all the small streams coming down to the waterbody had either completely dried up over the past 25-30 years or completely blocked down as a result of developmental activities. At present it was purely dependent on rain water.
In a two hour flora identification program, the team noticed that about 60-70% of the tree species were of Prosopis juliflora. The rest of the tree species of the region are Neem, Tamarind, Teak, Palm, Jujube or Indian date (Illandhai Pazham), Indian Gooseberry (Amla), White Barked Acacia (Velvelamaram), etc. Also Forty one species of birds including the National Bird of India-the Peacock, Asian Paradise Fly Catcher, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Common Hoopoe, Greater Coucal, Rufous Treepie, Eurasian Collared Dove, Spotted Dove, Spot-billed duck, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Cormorant, etc were recorded in a four hour Avifauna identification program in the area. Large numbers of peacocks were spotted suggesting habitats like these are crucial to prevent peacocks from entering agricultural lands. The Dry Thorny Bush ecosystem also supports mammals like Spotted Deer, Porcupine, Black-napped Hare (Indian Hare), Mongoose and Indian Fox. At Dusk the team observed more than 10,000 Wetland Birds including Little Egrets, Intermediate egrets, Cattle egrets, Spot-billed Ducks, Little Cormorants, etc arriving to the water body for roosting. This water body serves as the most important Roosting Site for these Wetland Birds and for a huge number of other birds in the surrounding 50 km radius.
The team also found that there were nearly fifty families dependent on this water body and the surrounding vegetation for grazing the cattle. Also they’ve taken the grazing land for lease from the Government on a yearly basis. The green cover should be conserved and protected. There is no second thought that the exotic and invasive Prosopis juliflora should be removed and native species should replace them. But cutting down of these trees completely in the 206 hectare will have a devastating effect on these birds & animals, as they had adapted to this ecosystem in the last 20-30years. Also with no proper plan and steps for bringing water to this wetland from Amaravathy River or other water source, this tender is of no help for improving the area and on the contrary will severely affect the eco system.
Hence OSAI requests the state government to step into this matter and kindly do the following:
1) A proper plan should be placed and steps should be taken to bring sustained inflow of water from Amaravathy River or any other water source. Till then, there is no need for such drastic measures and we request the state government to cancel this tender as it would have a great negative impact on the eco system as a whole if implemented.
2) After a successful implementation of a water scheme, the Prosopis juliflora trees can be cut down, only one hectare at a time and should be properly replaced with suitable native trees. Although this would be a very slow process, it would be beneficial for the eco system and green cover can be maintained which is critical for the birds and animals living in this region.
3) The Vattamalai odaikarai water body should be identified and declared as a community reserve/ conservation reserve wetland and should be upgraded into a Bird sanctuary. This would help in better protection of the wetland and the 10,000 plus wetland birds for which this wetland serves as home along with its other inhabitants.
OSAI feels that the present State Government and the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu are very keen in protecting the natural resources and environment of the state, evident from the recently concluded Synchronized Wetland Bird census initiated by the Government and various other initiatives like tree planting. We hope the Government steps in and cancel this tender with immediate effect and can possibly make Vattamali odaikarai Wetland as the Vedanthangal of Tirupur district.
இயற்கை காக்கும் எமது பணிகளில் நீங்களும் பங்கேற்கலாம்