Grundfos and Cognizant have announced funding support for the restoration of Sembakkam Lake in Chennai.
Cognizant will contribute more than INR 2.7 crores (approx. USD 360,000) and Grundfos will contribute USD 230,000 (approx. INR 1.7 crores) and up to USD 10,000 (approx. INR 7.5 lakhs) in kind for civil works, wastewater 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, one of the world’s largest conservation organisations, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, and Chennai-based Care Earth Trust, a non-governmental organisation 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 water bodies, building an eco-friendly wastewater treatment system, and constructing walkways and green buffer zones along the lake.
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, Cognizant’s employee-led volunteering program, 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, “Grundfos pioneers solutions to the world’s water and climate challenges and improves quality of life for people. We are also committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals #6 (Water and Sanitation) and we have set very ambitious and concrete goals for ourselves. By 2030, Grundfos will save 50 billion cubic metres of fresh water through efficiency and treatment and will have contributed to providing safely managed drinking water to 300 million people in need. Our support towards the restoration of the Sembakkam Lake is aligned to delivering on these objectives. By restoring this lake, we are not only strengthening its ecosystem, but also the connection between people and nature by providing a platform to connect them with the waterbody and its habitat.”
Muthu Kumaran, global head of Delivery for Cognizant Digital Business and the head of Cognizant’s Chennai operations, said, “We are pleased to be a part of this much-needed lake rejuvenation project as part of our commitment to a greener, healthier, more sustainable environment. 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 and resilience to floods and droughts. 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. We congratulate Care Earth Trust, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, The Nature Conservancy, and all individual as well as corporate contributors to the project for their remarkable work towards restoring this vital lake to its former glory.”
Seema Paul, managing director of The Nature Conservancy’s India Program, said, “The support of Cognizant and Grundfos is vital to taking up the critical eco-restoration work at Sembakkam Lake. 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. Bringing together our learnings from this project, we are developing a best practices guideline to catalyse scale-up of scientific and holistic, wetland restoration across the city.”
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.