Pulicat, the second largest brackish water lake in the country, is slowly losing its existence. This is mainly due to state government's failure to control issues like agricultural operations and silt formation in the lake. With the illegal digging and transportation of 'quicklime extract from shells' (Gulla Sunnam) to other areas, the future of this water body is questionable.
Spread over 461 square kilometres in Sullurpet, Doravari Sathram, Vakadu and Kota mandals in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and Arambakam, Yellavuru and Gummidipundi area of Tamil Nadu, the lake is loosing its sheen due to encroachments by farmers for cultivation in about 40 small islands located in the middle of the lake. Conducting farming operations was earlier against the norms but it was later legalised after the district administration issued Pattas, bowing to political pressures.
Along the length of Pulicat on sea side, there are three tidal inlets, that help the circulation of sea water into the lake at a controlled rate, maintaining optimum salinity levels. Over several decades, those tidal inlets are closing in due to formation of sand bars. One tidal inlet at Tuppilipalem is already closed and another one at the Rayadoruvu is nearing closure. Over the years, there have been several representations to the central government for dredging those sand bars so as to ensure they do not form again.
Recently, Tirupati MP Chintha Mohan sent the proposals yet again to the central government, which is learnt to have sought the opinion of Tamil Nadu government over the dredging of these inlets.
According to district forest officer (wild life) Pardhanandha Prasad, there was no problem for the water in Pulicat as its depth is being maintained perfectly at six feet during the rainy season. However, during summers, it dries up, becoming a huge evaporation basin.
He said that there was a proposal with the government for river connectivity to the lake for flowing more water from Swarnamukhi, Kalangi, and Arani supplying sweet waters even in summer season instead desilting.
‘Quicklime extract from shells', which is adequately available in the Pulicat, is being illegally transported to other states with the administration maintaining stoic silence over the issue. It is said that the administration had issued permission for digging the quicklime for 20 years to seven villages located in Pulicat in the larger interest of the villagers. Later, it was abolished. Cases have been booked against those responsible for illegal transportation, an official said.