CHENNAI : Robust efforts are being undertaken by residents and various environmental groups to restore the Selaiyur Lake which has been infested with garbage, plastic waste and polluted by illegal discharge of raw sewage for close to a decade now.The lake, spread across 100 acres, has been reduced in size over the last 10 years due to unchecked encroachments, said locals. Due to the government’s inaction, the lake which is the sole water body in East Tambaram, hasn’t been desilted for 15 years now, because of which excess water from the Selaiyur lake doesn’t drain into the neighbouring Chitalapakkam and Sembakkam lakes.
Irked by the ignorance of authorities, locals have taken up the responsibility of restoring the lake in collaboration with multiple NGOs. Over the last two weekends close to 25 volunteers removed thorn bushes and overgrown vegetation which was providing a convenient environment for anti-social elements to carry out illegal activities.
“Apartments and other encroachments located along the periphery let out untreated waste water directly into the lake. Also, sewage tankers from other localities dump sewage into the lake. We realised that if the lake isn’t restored to its former self, such activities will continue to occur,” said Ra Ravi, organiser of NGO Makkal Pathai’s south west Chennai wing.
Volunteers have submitted a letter to the Public Works Department to avail an earth-mover to remove floating garbage and overgrown vegetation which will be done during the third session of the clean-up.
But, the biggest hurdle these groups face is the dearth of manpower as local residents of neighbouring areas of Tambaram, Selaiyur, Chitalapakkam are not aware of such activities.
“After Christmas, students from Madras Christian College’s NCC wing will join us to help with the restoration. But, we require more volunteers for these efforts to pay off,” said Sethuraman, a member of Madipakkam river restoration group.People, who are interested to volunteer for the upcoming session of Selaiyur Lake restoration to be held on December 22 from 6.30 am to 9.30 am, can contact Ra Ravi at 9087868796.