The Velachery lake, which has already shrunk due to encroachments, is facing a new threat. Debris is being dumped along the bund encroaching into the lake area on the Velachery side.
The dumping began recently to facilitate construction of shops, which was planned by a section of politicians, allege the residents.
A recent visit to the lake revealed that concrete benches have been put up on the bund located on the Velachery – Adambakkam road. The local politicians were planning to slowly extend the bund further into the lake to facilitate construction of shops along the stretch, the residents alleged.
The lake, which is under the control of Water Resources Department, was originally spread around 108 hectares from Velachery to Adambakkam. But, systematic encroachment over the decades had shrunk the lake to nearly 23 hectares.
The bund on the Velachery side near the Guru Nanak College is already covered with concrete structures. Now, the remaining water spread area is facing a similar threat apart from pollution owing to release of sewage, the residents charged.
Residents, naturalists and researchers said there was a dire need for protecting this huge water body, as it is one of the main sources of fresh water for the residents of Velachery, Adambakkam.
Ranjit Daniels, a biodiversity researcher, said that every year during the northeast monsoon, Velachery gets flooded due to breaching of lake’s bund. A total of 13 species of fish including gouramy, flying barbs, and channa were recorded in the lake.
“The Velachery lake is an important source of aquatic biodiversity, especially of fish.The deep waters are not suited to many birds except coots, dabchicks and grey pelicans,” he said.
A member of local residents’ welfare association said the lake was halved into two with the laying of the bypass road. Protection of this wetland is critical for groundwater recharge.
Though the Water Resources Department had issued eviction notices to nearly 650 families in 2008, it hit a road block in encroachment removal as alternate housing for people was not allotted. All it does now is clear vegetation from the water body before the onset of northeast monsoon at a cost of Rs.19 lakh every year
Elaborate plans were made to introduce boating and creation of parks in the past. However, no such scheme was implemented owing to heavy encroachments.
Residents also alleged that the efforts are on to provide ‘patta’ document for the encroachers of lake area.
Sources at the WRD said that a regulator and a 2.3 km surplus course were constructed from the lake along Bypass Road.
Only after the encroachment removal can work to rejuvenate the water body be taken up as planned in other lakes.