CHENNAI: While the Adambakkam lake has been encroached by the illegal construction of buildings, its outlet to the Velachery lake has also not been spared. As the channel through which excess water from the Adambakkam lake flows into the Velachery lake is blocked by shops and buildings, water is directed to the neighbouring areas of AGS Colony, Brindavan Colony, Shankar Nagar and surrounding areas in a five-kilometre radius, resulting in major flooding.
Though residents have incessantly complained about these encroachments to concerned officials, no action has been taken. During a social audit conducted by anti-corruption group Arappor Iyakkam six months ago, volunteers found that new houses had been constructed in the last one year on the lake’s outlet. “Even after the High Court order was passed against encroachments on water bodies, such incidents are on the rise,” said M Shanmugam, a volunteer who headed the audit.
The Adambakkam lake, which was spread across 86 acres, according to official records in the 1970s, has shrunk to a mere six acres because of illegal occupation. Encroachments over the last two decades have reduced the lake’s area, which had water fit for domestic consumption, into a 30-foot-wide urban sewage canal layered with hyacinths. Because of this, the lake has lost its ability to retain water as well. “Residents living around the Velachery lake are terrified that a repeat of 2015 floods will occur again because the exit canal of the Adambakkam lake has been completely blocked. Three months ago, when Metro Water started work for pipe laying, more people started building huts here,” said Geetha Ganesh, a resident of AGS Colony.
When Express visited the spot near Kakkan Bridge on Race Course Road in Adambakkam, the west side of the bridge was covered with buildings. “I have forwarded complaints to the chief secretary’s office to remove such encroachments and to revive the lake. I have also complained to minister SP Velumani’s office. But, I have received no response. Yesterday I saw people dumping sand on the lake outlets to block water flow,” said M Sriram, a resident. PWD officials who are sole custodians of all water bodies in the city were not available for a comment.