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Wetlands restoration

Chennai’s state of water drifts between two extremes – floods and droughts. The region’s vast network of tanks, lakes and rivers have historically played a critical role in managing these extremes. However, due to rampant and unplanned urbanisation, very few of around 3600 water bodies that once dotted the region, exist today.

Restoration of water bodies has emerged as an important climate change adaptation strategy which can help build resilience to frequent floods and droughts. Yet, presence of multiple actors and, need for robust and comprehensive methodology to guide restoration on the ground is limiting the extent of impact and hindering long term sustainability of these initiatives in Chennai. This project seeks to initiate a programme to support more scientific and systematic wetland restoration efforts across Chennai and possibly beyond, through the development of a “Wetlands Restoration – Training Handbook” and conducting a “Wetlands Restoration – Training Workshop.”

The handbook will demystify the science behind the restoration process in an easy-to-understand, systematic framework for multiple stakeholder groups, and will be the key resource for the training workshop. This workshop will guide interested citizen welfare associations, industry and government, to make their restoration efforts more holistic through theoretical and practical sessions.



Parama Roy is the Lead Researcher heading the ‘Urban Transformation and Water’ portfolio at Okapi Research & Advisory. Parama is interested in the multifaceted and complex nature of urbanisation process and its social and environmental implications. Parama completed her Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and taught at Georgia State University and State University of New York-Binghamton in the US and University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Currently, she also holds an ‘Adjunct Faculty’ position at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Parama’s work is specifically motivated by principles of socio-environmental justice and sustainable development and guided by political-economic and political-ecological theories, and mixed research methodologies. She has published widely in international peer reviewed journals like Urban Affairs Review, City, and Geoforum.

She recently headed Okapi’s work as the strategy partner to Resilient Chennai team (part of Rockefeller Foundation funded 100 Resilient Cities programme). This work has involved comprehensive research and broad stakeholder engagement across Chennai to identify city’s vulnerabilities specifically in the areas of water, disaster, governance, vulnerable communities, and urbanisation and has culminated into the Chennai Resilience Strategy 2019.

Currently, she is guiding a research project on disaster vulnerability of the homeless in Chennai, funded by Azim Premji University.

Additional writing / Articles

Roy, P. (2019) Community Gardening for Integrated Urban Renewal in Copenhagen: Securing or Denying Minorities’ Right to the City? In Just Green: Urban Gardening and the Struggles of Social and Spatial Justice, Certoma C, Noori S, and Sondermann M (Eds). Manchester University Press

Roy P. et al (Strategy Lead) (2019) Resilient Chennai-Kaleidoscope: My city through my eyes, 100 Resilient Cities Program. Available from:

Roy, P. et al, (2018) Chennai: Urban Visions (A report from TN State Land Use Board funded project - A Platform for Integrated Water Governance in Metropolitan Chennai: Developing Future Scenarios and Strategies Through Participatory Simulations)

Roy, P (2017) "Welcome in my backyard"...but on my terms: making sense of homeless exclusion from renewed urban spaces in Copenhagen. GeoJournal, 83 (7): 1-16; DOI 10.1007/s10708-017-9769-8


Jayashree Vencatesan obtained a Ph.D. in Biodiversity and Biotechnology from the University of Madras. She is a graduate and post-graduate in Home Science and Community Nutrition. She is an experienced social scientist having worked on issues of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecological restoration, with a special interest in urban wetlands. Jayashree is the first Indian grantee of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute-Center for Tropical Studies short-term research fellowship. She was also awarded the prestigious Ramseshan Fellowship for science writing by the Indian Academy of Science.

At Care Earth, Jayashree Vencatesan works on issues of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecological restoration, with a special interest in wetlands. She has to her credit 30 scientific publications and one book.

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