CHENNAI: Even as Chennai's four reservoirs are unable to store the maximum amount of rainwater due to lack of proper desilting, more than 50 smaller water bodies have been fully restored this year and are brimming with rainwater, thanks to efforts of NGOs and the Chennai corporation.
The Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) alone has rejuvenated 54 ponds and lakes across Chennai and its suburbs in 2019. Water bodies in Tiruvallur district, Ambattur, Minjur and Sriperumbudur are full of water due to heavy rain in these parts, while those in Velachery, Perungalathur, Thalambur, Egattur, along ECR and OMR are fast filling.
Thanks to the continuous efforts of EFI volunteers, groundwater levels are also rising in these localities as most of the restored ponds have recharge wells installed on their beds.
In the last three months, seven water bodies in Velachery, Pallikaranai and Thoraipakkam were revived. Arun Krishnamurthy, EFI's founder, said these lakes were classic examples of severe public apathy. They were made unrecognizable by blatant encroachments, dumping of massive piles of garbage and construction debris. One such case is Kannan Kulam near Thoraipakkam tollgate which was encroached upon by a gym and a temple that was razed down by the corporation to make way for restoration work.
"Among the seven lakes, Puliyakeni was the hardest project we undertook in the recent past. It was a very deep lake filled with tonnes of garbage. So it required both mechanized and manual labour. And we had to use customised smaller machines as the entrance to the lake was very small," explained Arun.
Other water bodies that were restored include Nehru Nagar pond, Kattabomman pond, Mandapam Kuttai, Nattar St pond, and Pillayar Kovil pond,
All these lakes and ponds come under Chennai corporation's Rejuvenation and Restoration of Water Bodies project where 210 water bodies were identified for complete revival. This is being done
with the help of NGOs who in turn collaborate with corporates and restore lakes as part of CSR projects.
A senior corporation official said 72 of these water bodies have been fully restored and the remaining will be completed by the end of this month. "Out of 210 water bodies, 136 were handed over to NGOs and companies to revive. The remaining will be restored under Chennai Mega City Development Mission for which tenders were called this month," added the official.