TIRUCHY: While all other lakes in the district are either brimming or fast filling up, this 177 hectare lake at Nagayanallur village lies without water.
The lake shares its borders with seven villages near Thottiyam and is hardly seven kilometers from Mayanur barrage on Cauvery River.
N S Santhanam, a 74 year-old resident of Nagayanallur, said "We are seeing on news channels that the lakes all over the state are almost brimming now. But in our village, even though there has been copious rainfall for over a month, the lake here remains dry."
The last time the lake was brimming was in 2008. Until then, the people of seven bordering villages and five other villages irrigated by the lake were indulged in agricultural activities.
"During that time, bright sunflowers, lush paddy crops and dense sugarcane fields marked our village. But in 15 years, the situation turned upside down," said Radha Subramanian, who was running a school in the village.
At present, most of the lands are left barren, people abandon agriculture, groundwater level depleted, thanks to the poorly-maintained lake.
V Sudhakar, a youth from Karungadu village, said "We have one acre of land but could not do farming due to lack of water. 15 years ago, the lake was full and that was the last time we cultivated."
Three reasons for the present sorry state of affairs are, according to the villagers, firstly, water from Kolli Hills had been diverted depriving the Nagayanallur lake, secondly, inflow canals are ill-maintained and thirdly, the lake bed itself is filled with silt and sees pervasive overgrowth of bushes and thorn plants.
By and large, the lake now needs a complete overhaul.
N K Ramanthan said "The government should now find out a way to bring in Cauvery surplus water to our lake by digging a new canal. This can be easily done because our village is close to Cauvery."
However, before that, the villagers are demanding the government to desilt the lake and its canals which is a Herculean task.
The villagers suggest that if the government could not mobilize huge funds to carry out desilting, the officials can propose to any of the PSUs or corporate companies to do it under their CSR activities as the work may benefit several thousands of acres.
Radha Subramanian further said "Many people have moved to cattle rearing, daily wage works and some to textile mills. If the village gets its lake back, the people will bounce back to the prosperous life of agriculture."
Elderly Radhakrishnan, who once did cultivation at the village, was now eagerly waiting to see his lands to be tilled again.
The villagers also raised the issue with the Musiri MLA Kaduvetti N Thiyagarajan. The MLA also spoke about the lake and the need to bring in surplus water from Cauvery to it, in the state assembly.
When inquired about any project proposal to feed the lake, a PWD officer said "There is a scheme to link Ariyaru, Cauvery, Manimutharu and Sarabanga rivers, which will be implemented in five phases. This lake will receive water when this scheme enters 4th phase. Estimation work is underway."