CHENNAI: The Public Works Department has undertaken deepening of the Agaramthen Lake, near Tambaram, but it looks like the ‘restoration’ can do more harm to the waterbody than good.
The waterbody, over 78-hectares, is the primary source of irrigation to paddy fields in the area and had not been desilted for over a decade.
Work began a few days before the Model Code of Conduct came into effect and the work order accessed by Express is full of loopholes which seems to benefit the contractor.
The project allows the contractor to take 9,943 loads of earth from the lake for a concession fee, but there is no mention of how the excavation must be done and how soon the project must be completed. Sources indicate a soil and silt survey also was not conducted.
When Express visited the site on Sunday it found craters on a section of the lake bed where excavators had broken through a rock layer. “This will cause water to seep through the lake bed,” said S Janakarajan, a water expert with the Madras Institute of Developmental Sciences, explaining ‘ad hoc’ restorations without proper soil and silt surveys will do little to improve the state of the waterbody.
Locals claimed the contractor began excavating soil in a place and shifted to another spot closer to the road because it was easier to transport the soil from there. Express had reported how restoration rules were violated at Madambakkam and Pallavaram lakes despite norms.
When contacted, Assistant Director of Mines, Kancheepuram, Perumal Raja said “There were no norms set because the PWD will be monitoring the restoration,” claiming that the department will be monitoring the quantity of soil that is taken from the lake.
PWD officials were not available for comment.