The district administration of Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu along with Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a non-profit Organisation, are using a ‘hyper local’ approach called TamiraSES to restore the Thamirabarani River.
- The Thamirabarani is of great importance to southern Tamil Nadu environmentally and historically.
- But it too has suffered, which is why the restoration project has been started.
- While the Thamirabarani landscape, in general, appears water-rich, it faced severe drought in 2016 despite the diverse water storage systems in place.
- Settlements have been on the rise, which has led to the shrinkage of agricultural land and water bodies.
- TamiraSES project is a district level initiative, which aims to restore the Social Ecological Systems of Tamiraparani river riverscape from head-waters to the estuary to enable conditions for native biodiversity to thrive and maintain and enhance multiple ecosystem services to local stakeholders.
- Five social ecological observatories will be set up as part of the first phase of the project.
- These will serve as pilots to scale up from the learnings from these sites.
- The idea is to rejuvenate not just the Thamirabarani but all the water bodies in the riverscape of Tirunelveli.
- The Thamiraparani is the only perennial (continuous flow of water) river in Tamil Nadu.
- This is the shortest river in the state, the Thamirabarani starts in Pothigai hills of the Western Ghats in the Ambasamudram taluk, flows through Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts and empties at Korkai (Tirunelveli district) into the Gulf of Mannar (Bay of Bengal). It thus originates and ends in the same state.
- The river supports wildlife such as the Nilgiri marten, slender loris, lion-tailed macaque, white spotted bush frog, galaxy frog, Sri Lankan Atlas moth and the great hornbill.
- Besides the ecosystem services it provides, the river also has historical value for the people of the state.
- It is mentioned extensively in Sangam Era literature.