Cognizant and Grundfos have announced funding support for restoring the Sembakkam lake in Chennai. Cognizant will contribute more than ₹2.7 crore and Grundfos ₹1.7 crore and up to ₹7.5 lakh in kind for civil works, waste water treatment and landscaping to rejuvenate the 100-acre lake that flows into the Pallikaranai wetland, one of south India’s last remaining natural marshlands.

The two companies will collaborate with the India chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, and Chennai-based Care Earth Trust, a non-governmental organization that works in the area of biodiversity conservation. Expected to be completed in 2021, the work will involve cleaning the inlets and outlets, improving the lake’s connectivity with upstream and downstream waterbodies, building an eco-friendly wastewater treatment system, and constructing walkways and green buffer zones along the lake.

Improving storage

The project will help clear the lake of solid wastes, silt and invasive plant species, improve the lake’s storage capacity by 50%, enhance groundwater recharge and improve water quality. It will benefit over 10,000 households living around the lake and conserve the local biodiversity consisting of around 180 plant species (including 11 aquatic species) and more than 65 bird species. One of the goals of the project is to provide a natural recreational space to the local community and involve them in the maintenance of the water body.

In addition, after the COVID-19 situation improves, volunteers from Cognizant Outreach and Grundfos, together with project partners, will run a range of community engagement and awareness initiatives, expert talks, lake festivals and tree plantation drives ― to ensure long-term impact of the restoration project.

Poul Due Jensen, group executive vice-president, CSO, Grundfos, said, “ By restoring this lake, we are not only strengthening its ecosystem, but also the connection between people and nature by providing a platform.”

Muthu Kumaran, global head of delivery for Cognizant Digital Business and the head of Cognizant’s Chennai operations, said, “The Sembakkam Lake is one of Chennai’s 54 inter-connected lakes of the Pallikaranai watershed basin that are critical to the city’s water security. We believe this initiative has the potential to become an inspiring example of how the coming together of various stakeholders for a rejuvenation project of this scale can redefine the future sustainability of urban ecology.”

Seema Paul, managing director of the Nature Conservancy’s India programme, said, “We are deploying science-based and nature-led solutions using constructed wetland systems that use minimal energy, require zero chemical additives, and are inexpensive for wastewater treatment at the lake. We will continue monitoring the lake even after the completion of the project to ensure sustainable maintenance.” Some of the other experts involved in this project are the Consortia of FINISH society, Indian Leather Institute Foundation (ILIFO), The Solutions Centre (TSC) and Oasis Designs.

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