Agasthya 6.1 Man with a mission
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Centre for Excellence in Conservation Science
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Tirupudaimarathur village is located on the banks of the confluence of Tamiraparani and Ramnadi rivers. This is a village where Painted storks, Pelicans and other birds find priority in the activities of the villagers. Vast area of common lands here has been declared a ‘conservation reserve’. This is the only village along Tamiraparani where commercial sand mining from the river bed is banned. "Many people are waiting for my death," says Justice Ratnavel Pandian, former Chief Justice of Madras High Court. Justice Pandian is the village's guiding light and instrumental in bringing about these changes. He is referring to those commercial lobbies and interest groups which operate in the countryside. "Haveyou seen our forest," he asks with pride.

All along the river, the common lands that were barren once, today sports a lush green cover. "It has been the most difficult task to protect these trees in the initial stages," Justice Pandian says. "Narambu had to literally live there and take care of them," he says pointing to his "man Friday".
It is people in the village like Narambu who have made it possible to turn Justice Pandian's ideas into reality. Justice Pandian is not sure if the villagers understand fully the importance of these activities. But he is hopeful that future generations of the village will appreciate and reap the benefits of what their parents have sowed. "I am 80 now," Justice Pandian reveals. "For how long do you think I can go on like this," he asks. Despite a busy schedule even now, he makes it a point to visit Tirupudaimarathur at least once a month.
Many people wait patiently to see him as our conversation ambles along from forests, birds, to his work, vision and his own life. We would like to hear more but there would be another time. It's time to leave and give others a piece of his time.

Polluted water can aid in the excess growth of single species such as water hyacinth which can rapidly multiply thereby reducing the chances for other species. Sunlight is another key factor for flowering, hence when water recedes one might see a large number of flowers. Summer would be the best time for avid botanists who are keen to collect some specimen.Humans are one of the major beneficiaries of many wetland plants and are known to harvest and utilize several parts of the plants. Roots and rhizomes such as ‘Amalai kizhangu’, ‘Kadal paalai’ and lotus are used as food and medicine while leaves are used as fodder and manure. Silt in the tank containing decomposed plants used as organic manure for paddy and banana. Flowers of lotus and lily are sold in temples and also used for medicinal purposes. Reeds are harvested to make mats. Wetland plants support birds, fishes, frogs, reptiles, snails, several micro organisms, apart from cattle and humans. It provides space and resources for nesting, roosting and feeding of resident as well as migratory birds. Some birds like jacana walk through the floating leaves for feeding. Swamphen, coots and jacanas nest on the floating vegetation which forms the ideal habitat for their food - snails, frogs and reptiles. Fishes get food from living and decomposing parts of plants and also take shelter in the entangled mass of plants.

These wetlands plants are beneficial not only to harbor biodiversity but also in improving human well being. Lloss in wetland plants will be detrimental not just to wetland biodiversity but also to humans specially the marginalized communities.


Editorial Team
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salagame

Volume 6,  Issue 1
      April 2012

A S H O K A   T R U S T   F O R   R E S E A R C H   I N   E C O L O G Y   A N D   T H E   E N V I R O N M E N T

Man with a mission
- Samuel Jacob
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