CHENNAI: Residents cleaning the Velachery lake have fished out an estimated 4.5 tonnes of garbage from the lake so far. The cleanup drive, which is running into its sixth week now, is far from winding up, say resident-volunteers. The quantum of garbage cleared by the volunteers points to utter disregard for the waterbodies in the city even as it is facing an acute water crisis.
“Last Sunday, we were standing on what we thought was the lake bed but it felt a little strange. When we jumped, we could hear sound underneath so we started digging it up a little and realised that there’s an entire load of plastic under our feet,” said Vinoth Kumar K, a resident-volunteer.
Most of the garbage that was removed from the now 55-acre lake, was plastic. “This layer of plastic would not allow water to seep through even when it rains,” said Elaya Perumal U, another volunteer.
Volunteers initiated a WhatsApp campaign where residents from across the city, including areas like Alandur, Koyambedu and Siruseri, signed up for the lake cleanup drive. Volunteers have also begun cleaning the Karanai Puducherry lake, Urapakkam, from July. After cleaning, residents are looking at planting saplings along the bund.
“We are planning to go on until all the waste is removed,” said Vinoth Kumar. Volunteers arrived at an estimate of the quantum of garbage collected with the number of bags of waste they collected at the end of each day. “We could see inflow of sewage clearly at some points. The Government authorities must ensure that garbage is no longer dumped in the lake and also make sure that at least what is left of the lake, is free of encroachments,” said Elaya Perumal.