It was once a beautiful reservoir and a source of drinking water. Now, hidden in weeds and hyacinth, and polluted with oil and sewage, it has become an eyesore.
The ‘Villivakkam Reservoir’ in Ayanavaram Railway Colony is 1,500 feet long, 900 feet wide and 24 feet deep.
One of the largest of its kind in Chennai, spread over 200,000 square metres, it had six steel overhead tanks with a capacity of 600,000 gallons of treated water for storage and distribution, said K. Ramadoss, President (North Chennai District), Exnora, Ayanavaram.
The scenic waterbody with seven charging wells has been abandoned by Southern Railway authorities for more than four decades now. Until the late 1950s, it had been a well-maintained water resource with a well-equipped water treatment processing unit to supply potable water to Railway Colony, Railway Workshop, Railway Hospital etc. in Ayanavaram, he pointed out.
Formed by the then Madras and Southern Mahratta (M&SM) Railways in early 30s, the waterbody, the waterbody has also been a paradise for various birds including water hen, egrets andpond herons.
The metal ramp which provides an exotic view of the reservoir is also left in a precarious condition.
People in the vicinity feel the reservoir can be brought back to life if it is deepened with removal of aquatic weeds and with renovation of the existing defunct filter house (raw water treatment plant), which is supported with five high-level steel tanks for storage and distribution of treated water.
Southern Railway depends on Metro Water for supply of drinking water rather than the reservoir. Out of the five tanks, one is used to store Metro Water for ICF Quarters, the people say.
Since there is no one to guard the reservoir and its premises, the waterbody has become a den for the locals to go fishing.
An ICF employee says, “Water from the reservoir is filtered into the Railway Treatment Water Plant and is used for washing and gardening. It is all owing to sheer negligence on the part of Southern Railway in maintaining the reservoir."