CHENNAI: Residents of Chromepet and neighbouring area can rejoice as the Pallavaram municipality might soon restore the Veeraraghavan lake. Residents have been repeatedly requesting officials to reclaim the 37-acre waterbody for over a decade now. When more than 100 members of the Veeraraghavan Lake Protection Committee gathered to clean the waterbody two weeks ago, they had observed that it was impossible for the general public to go inside the lake, which was filled with sewage up to six feet. According to them, encroachers around the lake let their sewage into the waterbody, and stormwater drain inlets of the lake too carry sewage instead of rainwater.
Requesting to prevent contamination of the lake, members of the committee had submitted a petition to the concerned officials in Thiruneermalai and Pallavaram. Currently, a thick layer of hyacinth covers the entire waterbody, indicating the high level of pollution and water toxicity.
“Though the Pallavaram municipality is equipped with an underground drainage system, alarming amount of untreated sewage is let into the lake. It is not known whether the underground pipelines are functioning properly,” said V Santhanam, who heads the lake protection committee. He said that this is an important waterbody which can boost groundwater reserves of nearby areas. So, restoration of this lake at the earliest is of prime importance.
Following repeated appeals, the Thiruneermalai municipality officials had said they cannot undertake the work due to shortage of funds for at least a year. Finally, the Pallavaram municipality stepped up and prepared a detailed project report for `12 crore and sent it to the higher authorities for approval. “We are awaiting the reply. As soon as we get the nod, we will clear the sewage, block sewage inlets and put up a fence around the lake,” said an official.
Despite rains in the month of July, there is no groundwater even at 350 feet, worry residents. “A well located just 100 metres away from the lake, too, is showing no signs of water. Due to the negligence of both the public, who connected their sewage pipeline to the culverts, and the officials, who did not promptly act on this, are to be blamed. Currently, we are clearing the weeds surrounding the lake to quicken the restoration process,” said Maran Nagarajan, another member of the Veeraraghavan Lake Protection Committee.