CUDDALORE: The three major waterbodies in Cuddalore district — Veeranam, Walajah and Perumal lakes — that potentially can meet the drinking water requirements of both Cuddalore district and Chennai city have not undergone even a single full-fledged desilting work for several decades.
Cuddalore district, which usually has surplus amount of water mostly due to good monsoon rains, has suffered from water crisis this year. Despite the crisis here, the water from Veeranam is being sent to Chennai, which worsened the local crisis. Currently, 78 cubic feet of water per second is being sent to Chennai in a day, but activists point out that if timely desilting is done, more water can be sent without putting the lives of locals and farmers at stake in Cuddalore district.
In 2014, the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had announced desilting of Veeranam lake at a cost of `40 crore. But farmers’ associations claim that deepening of the lake was not done, and only maintenance work took place at a cost of Rs 20 crore.
Perumal Eri Neerpasan Vivasaigal Sangam secretary Tanur R Shanmugam said, “If all the three lakes are completely desilted, we can store up to five to six TMC water. As a result, 70,000 acre more agricultural land will be benefitted. From Veeranam and Walajah lakes, water up to 150 cubic feet can be sent to Chennai, besides the groundwater of 150 cubic feet extracted by the NLCIL.”
Shanmugam said that for desilting all the lakes, nearly Rs 600 crore would be required, but it is only an investment for the government as it can earn up to Rs 250 crore to Rs 300 crore by selling the sand from the lakes. “We have petitioned the authorities about the need to desilt the three lakes. We hope the Chief Minister initiates the work that can meet the water requirements of both Cuddalore and Chennai city.”
Talking to Express, a retired official of the Public Works Department said, “The deeper the lakes are, the more water they can store. They can also meet the water requirements for a longer time. Desilting will also help avoid the water flowing into the sea, in addition to preventing flooding.”