Encroachments, official apathy have made the lake dry

The Panamarathupatti Lake, the main source of irrigation for the farmers in the locality, has almost become dry now.

This 900-acre picturesque water spread with Jarugumalai hills forming an impressive backdrop in the city suburbs served as the main drinking water source for Salem and Namakkal towns in 1920.

But, of late, encroachments and official apathy have made the lake dry and rendered it sport a haunting look.

Migration

Since its catchment areas have been narrowed down, farmers have started migrating to the city, selling their lands, thus leaving the lake to the exploitation of unscrupulous elements.

The Salem Corporation took some strong measures and retrieved about 1,400 acres from the encroachers and even erected an iron mesh around the water body to prevent further encroachment and water pilferage.

A proposal to make it a tourist spot was also mooted. But the idea has not taken up so far.

The then Tourism Secretary, V. Iraianbu, also sought a detailed report on the proposal, but nothing concrete emerged.

The lake is facing another serious problem. Many say that it may not receive water mainly due to the construction of 55 check dams by both the Public Works and Forest Departments across rivers Varataru and Kootaru, the main sources of water supply to the lake, which it received last in 2004. Since then it has not received a drop of water.

What we need are free flow of water into the lakeand a scientific approach to the issue, say the farmers and residents of the area.