Passengers who alight at Thuraiyur bus stand or halt on Tiruchi-Thuraiyur highway receive an overpowering welcome- a strong stench emanating from the adjoining lake.

An erstwhile source of irrigation to nearby farmlands, the Chinna Eri (small lake) in the centre of the town, is today the favoured garbage dump of commercial establishments, hotels and hospitals.

A manifestation of the adage ‘water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink’, the lake though filled to the brim has no drop of potable water. “There is no lake, the entire water body is a sakkadai (sewer). Not a single drop can be used,” says a farmer.

The mouth of the lake is a depository of plastics. Hotels and eateries around the area dump eggs, leftovers and foodstuffs into the lake, says Ilango, an auto driver. A number of hospitals have mushroomed around the centre of the town and much of the waste finds its way into the lake.

Better without water

While residents have never turned to the lake for drinking water, it was a source of irrigation for adjacent farm lands a decade ago, says K.Subramanian, president of a farmer’s association in Thuraiyur.

“When the farmlands around the lake turned into residential plots, there was no need for irrigation. Today what we have left is a lake in the centre of the town that is a curse to the people of Thuraiyur,” he laments.

“It is better that the water is drained or channelled underground. Being a breeding ground for mosquitoes, it poses a major health hazard.”

Though obscured from public view by autos, buses and vehicles that line the banks of the lake, its location close to the bus stand and municipality office, right at the heart of the town, does not augur well. The pollutants in the lake have not even spared the ducks and fish in the water, say residents.