Cognizant and Grundfos have announced funding support for the restoration of the Sembakkam Lake in Chennai. While Cognizant, one of the world’s leading professional services companies, will contribute over INR 2.7 crores (approx. USD 360,000), Grundfos will contribute INR 1.7 crores (approx. USD 230,000) and up to INR 7.5 lakhs (approx. USD 10,000) 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 ecofriendly 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 per cent, enhance groundwater recharge, and improve water quality. It is expected to 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 programme, and Grundfos, together with project partners, will organise community engagement and awareness initiatives, expert talks, lake festivals and tree-planting drives to ensure long-term impact of the restoration project. 

Poul Due Jensen, group executive vice president, CSO, Grundfos, said, ‘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 with 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 interconnected 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.’     

As per Seema Paul, managing director of The Nature Conservancy’s India Program, the project will deploy ‘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.’