CHENNAI: The Kanniammankoil pond, which supposedly dates back to the Pallava era, was once the primary source of drinking water for residents of Manimangalam, located 45 km from the city. However, a decade of slow pollution is strangling this historic oasis.
The two-acre lotus pond fed by the Manimangalam lake is an eyesore with domestic sewage from houses polluting its bunds. Water hyacinth is slowly creeping into the ecosystem and K Nagarathinam, the temple priest, fears that the age-old temple tank will become a thing of the past.
“Taps have ruined everything,” he said. In the past, when people had water connections, strict rules were in place to protect the pond. Nobody was allowed to bathe, wash clothes or get into Kanniammankoil pond. It was meant only for drinking water. People were, however, allowed to draw water for other domestic purposes also,” he said.
The priest’s theory about the advent of tap water and packaged water ruining the pond by rendering it redundant seems to hold water. Men enjoying an afternoon drink near the bund have littered it with empty water packets. It is common to see people urinating near the pond.
Agri, domestic pollutants
This perennial pond is fed by the Manimangalam lake, which is used for irrigating the nearby paddy fields. “Inorganic fertilizers and pesticides seep into the lake from these paddy fields during monsoon. These contaminants enter the smaller pond ecosystem and spark growth of vegetation,” said Arun Krishnamurthy, founder of Environmentalist Foundation of India.
Coupled with influx of domestic sewage, agricultural pollutants cause growth of hyacinth, which deprive fish of oxygen.With the fish population dying, Nagarathinam fears the ‘two fishes’ etched on a temple wall will become an ironic reminder of the pond’s slow death.The town administration was not available for comment.