CHENNAI: A 52-year-old farmer placed his deceased mother’s photo beside a lake and began desilting the waterbody two weeks ago. Hailing from a village in Kancheepuram district, G Karunakaran wanted to do something that would not only honour his mother's memory but also would benefit his village in the longer run. This is when he decided to restore a neglected lake near his home in Kurumbai village.
As word got around, several people from the village reached the lake and offered their support. “My mother Anjalai (94) was a village midwife for over 40 years, and she performed all deliveries for free. She was a social worker in her own way. I wanted to do something that will do justice to her memory,” the farmer said.
The lake, spread over three acres of land, served as a watering hole and drinking water source for the village for as long as the locals could remember. Over the last 10 years, weeds and shrubs spread all over the waterbody. Authorities too failed to properly maintain the lake, reducing it to a swamp.
When other villagers heard of Karunakaran’s efforts, they chose to lend a helping hand. “I was overwhelmed by the response I received. Everyone said that we should not wait any longer to save the lake, otherwise, in five years it will completely disappear. The works will cost around `1 lakh. But I am more than happy to do this for my village and my mother,” said the 52-year-old farmer.
A month ago, Karunakaran had written to the District Collector regarding the poor state of the lake. He has received no response as yet. At present, two earthmovers are removing silt from the lake, which has also shrunk over the years due to encroachments.
Other than this lake, there are four other waterbodies in Kurumbarai village that need immediate upkeep works. “I hope the authorities will revive the other lakes in our village. As many grow sugarcane, which is a water-intensive crop, restoring water bodies will go a long way to recharge groundwater levels.” Karunakaran added.