The high profile Adyar Poonga project which, after the completion of its first phase, seemed to have gone into limbo, has suddenly been revived, with a meeting recently held among the various Government departments and agencies involved. It is under-stood that it was agreed that work on the second phase of the project, involving 300 acres as opposed to the first phase’s 58 acres, will begin soon. This is a welcome development.
The Adyar Poonga was the outcome of the Consumer Action Group’s, (CAG’s) spirited fight against the continued degradation of the Adyar Creek, once a sylvan natural habitat that sadly became a dumping ground for garbage and, worse, unplanned cons-truction activity. Following a High Court order in 2008, the Government entrusted the project to the Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited. Following the directives of the Court, a monitoring committee was set up, which had on it, among others, representatives of CAG.
The progress of the work was not smooth. The CAG continuously opposed any attempt at constructing permanent structures on the site. There was also considerable opposition to planting alien species of trees. A further worry was the Government’s commitment then to work on only 58 acres, which were separated from the water by the remaining 300 acres. It was feared that such isolated preservation would cut off the water from the park. But work went ahead nevertheless and the first phase of the work was declared complete in 2010.
What happened after that has never been fully explained. For some reason, the park was declared out of bounds for anyone other than groups of school children. There were rumours that the landscape architect involved was never paid his dues. And with a change in Government it appeared that priorities had shifted to other projects.
Happily that would appear not to be so. At the recently held meeting, it is learnt, officials in charge of the Adyar Poonga have urged the Corporation to take steps to stop the dumping of waste and construction debris on the remaining 300 acres. They have also asked for the construction of toilets on the premises. Metrowater has committed to constructing additional stormwater drains to ensure that water is diverted to the park. This, it is expected, will restore tidal flow into the protected area. A sewage treatment plant is also on the anvil. Once this is done, it is expected that the Government will allow the general public ingress into the park.
While all this is to the good, it is absolutely necessary that the Government speeds up its execution. Four years have gone by with very little to show for it. In the meanwhile the environment is getting increasingly degraded. The site is a convenient spot of the illegal dumping of construction debris, which is detrimental for natural growth and vegetation. If this is not curtailed in a hurry, lots more money will need to be spent in removing the debris and also restoring the soil. Secondly, given the way our governments work, the land can always be hijacked for some other project. So the sooner the entire 358 acres are transformed as a natural preserve, the better for every-one including, of course, the citizens of Chennai.