CHENNAI: Residents of BR Nagar in Ambattur have been fighting to save a waterbody, Vannan Kulam, from being encroached upon.In June 2019, they noticed earthmovers depositing large quantities of soil on the lakebed. Following this, residents got to know that some private parties were trying to take over the land for construction.
Spread over one acre, the Vannan Kulam was holding a good amount of water even five years back. Due to the droughts in 2018 and 2019, the pond had completely dried up and was filled with weeds and shrubs.
“During this time, an individual in the locality, started extending his compound wall into the waterbody’s bund. When residents confronted him, he said he was merely trying to stop water coming into his house. After this, huge lorries dumped soil on the pond.
This is when we suspected foul play,” said Rajarajan K, a member of the BRR Nagar Residents Welfare Association. The association had written to the commissioner of Chennai Corporation, regarding this in August. Following this, officials from zone 7 inspected the spot. But residents said nothing has been one since then.“In land documents, the area where the pond is located, is earmarked as a ‘Kuttai Poromboke’ area. But sources informed us that there are efforts by some people to reclassify this area to allow construction. Near TI Cycles in Ambattur, a two acre-lake was reclassified and now a flat is built over it,” said another resident, who wished to remain anonymous.
Residents said that from 2003 to 2014, when the pond was bereft of encroachments, they faced no problem of flooding in their locality. But over the years, as the condition of the pond deteriorated and it lost its water retention nature, severe water logging started to occur.A senior official from the corporation confirmed that the area under contention is indeed a waterbody.