PERAMBALUR: After 10 years, Perali village now has both its lakes brimming with water - all thanks to the four-year-long efforts by some youngsters of the area to remove the invasive "seemai karuvelam'' trees and renovate canals.
Most canals leading to lakes Ooreri and Kaleri were filled with the "seemai" trees (Prosopis juliflora). The trees used to suck up all the water when it rained, leaving no water available for use. This was coupled with the poor maintenance of the canals leading to the lakes.
For the past four years, local youngsters with the help of the government are making efforts to renovate water bodies in their villages. "Puthiya Payanam'', a team known for its water conservation efforts, also joined the villagers' mission to clear the trees. Now, over 90 per cent of the ''seemai karuvelam'' trees in the two lakes have been removed.
A plant of Jamaican origin, Juliflora was introduced in south India by the colonialists in the 19th century. They were widely used as firewood in the region before kerosine and cooking gas took the centre stage. This led to the trees increasing their population manyfold over the years and resulting in the current crisis.
Initially, the group started with hand tools but later introduced earthmovers money collected from villagers. They also ensured government help was used to the maximum in renovating the canals.
“These two lakes used to provide drinking water to humans as well as cattle. Many years ago, they were used for irrigation but with no maintenance, they went dry. We are very pleased to see the lakes brimming with water once again. Our four years of hard work has paid off,'' Puthiya Payanam member and Perali resident T Nallappan said.
Groundwater levels would also rise. People used to buy water. Now that will change and with continued preservation, we would not have to pay for water again,” said A Venkatesan, local youth from Perali.
“I remember learning to swim in this lake. Now our children may also get that chance,” he added.