In 2022, the Pitchandikulam forest consultants undertook a significant restoration project at Naganthagal Eri, situated in Upparapalayam village, Pothur Panchayat. This lake had played a crucial role in the past by serving as a vital groundwater reservoir and providing safe drinking water to the community. Unfortunately, due to neglect, it had become filled with silt and overrun with weeds, losing its ability to hold water. The lake’s location on the outskirts of Chennai, just above the Puzhal Lake, made it an essential water body for water conveyance and urban flood prevention during the monsoon seasons.
The restoration project, carried out in partnership with Pothur Panchayat and funded by Tata Communications limited, was aptly named “Nanneer,” which translates to “good/safe water.” Before commencing the restoration work, the Pitchandikulam team conducted a thorough biodiversity survey to identify the fauna and flora in the area. This step was crucial to reintroduce the native species that once thrived there. Subsequently, a well-planned land shaping strategy was designed for the 15.01-acre lake, incorporating features such as platforms, an island, and two small hills with walking tracks.
The land shaping phase involved careful excavation and desilting of the lake. The excavated silt and soil were then utilized to create hills, islands, and bunds, contributing to the revitalization of the lake’s ecosystem. Over five thousand plants of native species were thoughtfully planted on the bunds, platforms, island, and hills within the desilted lake area. An encouraging aspect was the involvement of TCL employees, who volunteered in the plantation work, this helped promoting awareness about water conservation and the significance of planting indigenous flora to IT urban people.
To ensure the protection of the newly planted vegetation from cattle and other threats, the site was securely fenced. Additionally, essential infrastructure, including water facilities, toilets, huts, and seating benches, were constructed to facilitate visitors’ access and comfort.
As part of the project’s broader vision, a dedicated “Blue Green Center” (BGC) was established at the site. The BGC serves as a hub for environmental education programs, catering to school students, local youth, and anyone interested in environmental conservation. Building upon TCL’s existing support for environmental education in Chennai schools through the “School in Action” initiative, where students learned about indigenous flora and fauna at Adyar Poonga (Tholkappiar Poonga) restored by Pitchandikulam Forest in 2007, this program extended to the Nanneer site. Local students in the vicinity are invited to the BGC for enlightening environmental education experiences.
The culmination of the project saw the inauguration of the BGC by the Tiruvallur collector, with the project officially handed over to the district government, as the lake fell under their jurisdiction. The
project’s success was acknowledged through a prestigious TCL award and favorable outcomes in the biodiversity survey and Environmental Impact Assessment, reaffirming the positive impact of the restoration efforts.
The Kaluveli watershed area is 750 sq. kms which has 200 inter-connected eris (man-made water catchments) that drain into the Kaluveli flood plain. The area also has five sacred groves and two reserve forests. Pitchandikulam established the Kaluveli Environment Education Trust (KEET) in 2005 based at Nadukuppam (45 km north of Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu) on a 35-acre site which was an environmental disaster. The land has been restored due to the plantation of the indigenous forest type. The Nadukuppam Forest is home to some 35,000 plants (trees, shrubs, ground covers) which have been planted over 17 years and include 300 species of coastal flora. It is a model surface rainwater retention landscape where 23 ponds have been created to harvest and store the rain for irrigation and water table replenishment. An extensive nursery raises and sells indigenous coastal forest plants. Nadukuppam also has an environment center which reaches out to surrounding schools. Women’s empowerment is taken care of through women’s self-help groups who are trained in making herbal products.
In 2010 a comprehensive eco restoration plan was executed on 72 acres of land for the Chettinad company. Thirty acres of water bodies were created, and several hills formed to the height of 28 meters. The entire site was planted with predominantly indigenous species and extensive landscaping, walkways, bridges were created.
The year 2015 was a time of reckoning for the coastal region of Tamil Nadu. On December 1st the region experienced the highest amount of rainfall in 100 years where over 400 people died, nearly 2 million people were displaced and losses amounting to 300 crores were incurred. There was serious need to take stock of situation and carry out immediate measures. TCS, Indian Institute technology of Madras and Pitchandikulam forest consultant got together to do the needful towards the positive rejuvenation of the environment.
The Siruseri water catchment area of which SIPCOT campus is located was identified as critical to the flooding of southern Chennai. A detailed hydrogeology survey of this area was carried out by IIT Madras. It came up with valuable recommendations to be implemented in the Siruseri water catchment to prevent future floods and to improve water management in the region.
PFC’s holistic vision included ecological and social factors. It puts together a replicable model of eco restoration that included in the age old system of 100’s of cascading lakes to west of Chennai. This would reduce the impact of flooding and also recharge the aquifers so that Chennai could have sufficient water in the summer months.
The plan included the transformation into a vibrant eco system of the degraded reserve forests above the Periya eri and Sitheri, which are infested with invasive exotic tree species. The forest area which is heavily eroded needs to be restored by the creation of water retention landscapes.
Awareness programs were conducted among the locals to gather their visions for Siruseri.
The conceptual plan of PFC also included provision for bunds, hills, platforms, islands and a site for the eco knowledge center.
The land development work of the Periya eri began on 17 December of 2018. In Sitheri the land formation work reached completion before the rains of 2019. More than 6,000 trees and shrubs of 60 indigenous species were planted during the last months of 2019. After over 35,000 machinery hours over 12,500 man hours and countless hours of design and creativity the twin lakes began to breathe again.
It feels positive that green blue energy is returning to an area that some 17 years ago was rural farm land but which was then transformed into an urban and industrial landscape. Hopefully with enlightened direction, SIPCOT and its surrounds can be a green model of how technological parks can be created.
Since the completion of the project in December 2019 Pitchandikulam has continued to maintain and develop the 100acre lake site. We now have a formal contract with SIPCOT to execute the maintenance and further plantations.
TKM has a very impressive factory laid out over 500 acres at Bidadi industrial area along the Bangalore – Mysore Highway. Here 25 acres have been set aside as an ECOZONE principally to sensitise employees of TKM and other corporates in Bidadi, their families and children from surrounding schools about environmental and conservation issues. PFC was contracted to execute the Artwork for the site which involved interpretation signage, carving and painting gigantic pillars for a timeline walk, 3D carvings of keystone animal species, 2D carving on boulders depicting endangered plant species and artistically designed mosaic seating. This venture has been very rewarding and it was a pleasure to be appreciated by the top executives and CEOs of Toyota, many of whom had flown down from Japan to attend the opening ceremony of the park.
Dates 10 – 12 September 2018
Madhav Sahasrabudhe is a mechanical engineer based in Pune. He was introduced to spinning by Dadasaheb Bhosale nearly a decade ago and has been spinning ever since and also teaching people how to use a charkha. Madhavji has been associated with Nai Talim for the last 5 years, where he teaches physics and maths to 9th and 10th std students, and also helps them refine their spinning skills. (Nai Talim is a Gandhian system of activity-based learning with a premise that work and knowledge are not separate.) He has authored a book called “Art of Spinning”, which can be downloaded here: http://www.mkgandhi.org/swadeshi_khadi/Charkha_Manual.pdf
Cost Course Fee
We are offering this course on a ‘gift-economy’ model for Aurovilians. For non-Aurovilians, the suggested contribution is Rs 1500. Charkha would cost an additional Rs 2,000 for all.
A total of 15 registrations will be accepted for this workshop.
Simple vegetarian lunch and snacks will be provided on all three days.
Accommodation should be arranged by the participants. We can assist in finding accommodation in Auroville or Pondicherry. Smoking, drinking, narcotic substances and disposable plastic are strictly prohibited.
If you would like to buy a charkha before the workshop, please register before 31 August.
If you have any queries, please write to email@example.com or call +91 94491 91233.
Alambara Resorts, the property of TT Groups, on the Yedayanthittu estuary near Kadapakkam
combined landscaping and planting an area of 40 acres.
D.J. Academy in Coimbatore was a barren land. The main focus of the work here was shaping and planting an area of 25 acres and particularly creating water retention landscapes.
The Turtle Interpretation Centre at Marakkanam is a project undertaken at the behest of the Department of Forest and Wildlife, Tamil Nadu. The centre has interpretation signage on plywood that combines both text and imagery concerning sea turtles found in India, especially the Olive Ridley Turtle which inhabits coastal waters of the East Coast of India.
Students are taken on an exposure visit to the bio-region. An introduction is given in the class room a week before the visit. During the visit forests and wetlands are mainly covered. The students are exposed to the biodiversity within these ecosystems. Some of the unique fauna are discussed in detail with children, eg. bats, flying fox and migratory birds of the wetlands. Forests with tropical dry evergreen species and sacred groves in the villages are also covered during this trip.