CHENNAI: Residents cleaning the Velachery lake have fished out an estimated 4.5 tonnes of garbage from the lake so far. The cleanup drive, that 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 water bodies 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 noises underneath so we started digging it up a little and we 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, apart from rags and other waste. "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 clean up drive. Volunteers have also begun cleaning the Karanai Puducherry lake, Urapakkam from July and the drive is expected to go on until September. After cleaning, residents are looking at planting saplings along the bund. They have also petitioned State to start removing water hyacinth, plug sewage inflow, remove encroachments and desilt the Velachery lake.
"We are planning to go on until all the waste is removed from the lake bed," 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 at least what is left of the lake is free of further encroachments," said Elaya Perumal.