After water crisis, this Chennai neighbourhood takes up the task of restoring ponds

Residents call for more volunteers as more hands are needed to successfully finish the task of cleaning 10-12 ponds in the locality. 
Residents of Polichalur cleaning up a piond which has become a dumpyard | Express
Residents of Polichalur cleaning up a piond which has become a dumpyard | Express

CHENNAI: After ponds were found being used as dumpyards in Polichalur, said to be a famous Chola town and home to the 800-year-old Agastheeswarar Temple, residents have taken it upon themselves to reclaim them.

"The village has 10-12 small ponds, each around half-acre in size. Many of these are now dumpyards," said Sindhu Kumaran, a resident of the village for the last five years.

Working in a private concern in a 2-10pm shift, Sindhu helps cleaning the pond during the morning hours before going to work. She is helped by a group of 50, mostly comprising of local residents. When they began cleaning the pond on Wednesday, the team realised that the task needed more hands at work. "On Wednesday alone, we have spent around Rs 7,000 as rent for the excavators and garbage trucks," Sindhu said.

The village was jolted to the realisation that their waterbodies had to be reclaimed because of the water crisis they are presently in. After metro water supply stopped in February this year, villagers have been reliant on water trucks. High salinity in the groundwater there discourages villagers from using it for drinking. "It is a now or never situation," explains C Vijayashankar, who is also part of the lake cleaning groups in Velachery, Porur and Manapakkam.

"If the monsoon starts, we cannot step in to clean the lake. If we wait for another six to seven months, the momentum that we have now that has inspired residents to take things into their own hands will be lost. We are running short of time," he said.

However, with 50 volunteers, the initiative may not be sustainable, said villagers. "We would greatly appreciate it if more people come forward to help us," said Vijay.

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The New Indian Express