CHENNAI: For 3,500 residents of Ennore, who suffered from worst water crisis in summer like those in many parts of the city and who were haunted by sewage and saline water contamination, a great relief is round the corner. For ‘Thamarai Kulam’, a lesser-known waterbody in Ennore covered in sewage, is set for a new lease of life. And so, the residents can hope for fresh water.
For many decades, the lake has borne the brunt of abundant sewage discharge and large-scale encroachments. The water hyacinth had enveloped the lake so massively that the lake had almost disappeared.
In mid-July, the Greater Chennai Corporation teamed up with Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), a non-profit wildlife conservation and habitat restoration group, in a move to restore the waterbody. The cost of restoration is borne by the Gulf Oil India Ltd through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.
Speaking to Express, Arun Krishnamurthy, EFI Founder, said the current efforts to remove water hyacinth, construction debris, accumulated trash are expected to be completed by early September.
‘’Two feet of silt is being excavated to be used on the bunds while the other efforts such as inflow-outflow regulation, fencing of the lake boundary areas are expected to take more time depending on the monsoon arrival,’’ said Krishnamurthy.
When Express visited the lake, large amounts of silt were dredged already and laid on the bunds. ‘’The bund strengthening efforts are expected to be completed by mid-September,’’ added Krishnamurthy.
The Corporation, which is the care-taker of the lake owned by the PWD, has removed about 15 loads (1.5 ton) of silt in one month. ‘’ There is only one lorry to remove the silt currently but we expect to add one more soon,’’ said a Corporation official.
Though the original size of the lake is not ascertained due to encroachments, Corporation officials said the non-encroached part alone is five acres. “One month ago, the Revenue department marked 10 metres of encroachment on west and east sides of the lake,’’ said the official.
According to the official, there are about 300 encroached houses on the lake and when the Revenue department visited the place, there was strong resentment by the locals. Even when Express visited to click pictures of the lake, a few locals showed resent. However, residents of surrounding areas J J Nagar and Kamaraj Nagar welcomed this move.
Pathway, park on the cards
A Corporation official said the first thing would be to close all sewage inlets. “The lake also connects to the Kosasthalaiyar river, which carries sewage as well. It has to be shut too,’’ said the official.“Following this, after the encroachments are removed, we may set up walking path and plant trees too to create a park,’’ said the official.