DHARMAPURI: Lakhs of trees are planted every year in many places to observe World Environment Day, but it remains a ritual; few of these saplings grow up as they will soon dry for want of watering and protection.
But there are some who are serious about the environment. A group of youngsters revived a lake in Dharmapuri and many activists and even actors have praised them. They did not see it as a photo opportunity and did it without government support.
The 11-acre Ilakiyampatti lake, by the Dharmapuri-Salem highway, was mostly overgrown with Seemai karuvel (Prosopis juliflora) and filled with waste till recently. Now, after restoration, there is 10 times as much water in the lake, which has become a haven for birds. For all this, we should thank the Dharmapuri Peoples Forum (DPF), which worked for 150 days to revive the lake.
“Initially it seemed impossible. The local administration did not give us permission to revive the lake,” Uma Shankar of DPF told Express. “We approached the district administration later and finally got permission to adopt and revive the lake after which everything took place like magic. A lot of work was done and the lake revived within 150 days. Five islands were created in it, 1,000 medicinal plants and 2,000 saplings planted on them”, said a happy Uma Shankar.
There is an amphitheatre and a walk also at the lake, which was visited by activist and actor Kishore and actor Karthi, who saw it as a model for others.
“At first, we did not have the human resources or the fund to revive the lake, but a determined 20 people started by clearing garbage, removing Seemai karuvel from eight acres,” said Balasubramaniam, also of DPF. “Then, inspired by our work, people started to join us. Some helped us with money while others worked to clean the lake. By the end, more than 500 people participated in the effort. As much as `15.5 lakh was donated by by the people from here and working abroad,” he added.
“Before reviving it, the lake had only 3 lakh cu ft of water. Now it is 33 lakh cu ft. Groundwater levels have increased in a radius of 1 km. Last year, water was obtained from borewells at a depth of 150 ft, but now water is available at 80 feet,” said activist Saravanakumar.