Members of Environmentalist Foundation cleaned a portion of the lake which has been doubling as a dumpyard. T.S. Atul Swaminathan and Vaishali R. Venkat report

Instead of waiting for the government to solve environment-related issues, a group of civic-conscious people and members of Environmentalist Foundation of India have taken it upon themselves to save the Madambakkam Lake. A portion of the lake near Tambaram, which has been doubling as a dump-yard, was cleaned by volunteers of EFI, a wildlife conservation and habitat restoration group. The initiative is part of EFI’s 18-phase project to restore the water body.

“Around 43 tonnes of waste, which included domestic, medical, and industrial, has been cleared in seven phases and last week alone nearly 7.69 tonnes of garbage were collected,” Arun Krishnamurthy of EFI said.

He said that EFI will seek permission from Public Works Department to adopt and restore the water body and preserve it as a place of interest for biodiversity. “During the drive, we were able to sight different species of birds, amphibians, and reptiles,” he added. The local community also came forward to volunteer for the cause. The pace at which the clean up was carried out showed the dedication of the team to finish the project before monsoon sets in.

As part of the lake-restoration project, a sample of water from the lake is collected and tested to determine the level of contamination. Then, the lake bed is de-silted and the silt is deposited on the bunds and levelled. To strengthen the bund, native species of plant and tree saplings are planted.

Students of Class VII to XII have been major contributors in the lake clean-up operations in Keelkatalai, Narayanapuram, Tambaram, Maraimalai Nagar, Madambakkam and Mudichur.

Mr. Krishnamurthy, a recipient of Rolex Awards for Enterprise in 2012, has invested all the award money into the dream eco-project. His team wishes to restore at least 20 lakes by the end of 2016.