Residents of Ayapakkam near Ambattur live in constant fear of flooding during every spell of rains.
The reason for the fear is the refusal by authorities to take action against encroachments in the vicinity of the lake. These encroachments block the weir, a structure that allows the surplus water to escape the catchment areas and cause the flooding of several residential communities after every heavy spell of rain, they said.
Like many other waterbodies around the city, the Ayapakkam lake too is a picture of neglect as it is covered with overgrown vegetation.
B. Vignesh, a resident of Ayapakkam, said that whenever the lake gets full, the surplus water inundates several areas, including Bhavani Nagar, Sivasakthi Nagar, TNHB quarters, Kalaivanar Nagar and Kulasekaran Nagar. Residents alleged that two ponds that were part of the chain of tanks that received water from the Ayapakkam lake had been closed. This also led to more areas getting covered in water.
Uma Kannan, former councillor of the erstwhile Ambattur municipality, said that at least 15,000 families would be affected due to flooding. Streets get slushy as most of them lack blacktopping. The problem has not occurred so far in low-lying areas as the lake has less water. As the area lacks a proper underground drainage network, residents of some houses and TNHB quarters let their sewage into the lake and the nearby canals.
Some encroachments that were removed three years ago along the bund have returned now, she said.
A.M. Durai Veeramani, president of federation of residents’ welfare association said that the lake had to be desilted and its bund strengthened. It is a major source of groundwater recharge to the locality. The water level dips to 100 feet-150 feet during peak summer.
According to Ayapakkam panchayat, nearly 14 borewells depend on the lake for street supply. About 50,000 people are supplied with two lakh litres of water daily from these borewells.
The panchayat does not have enough funds to desilt or deepen the big lake and depends on the Water Resources Department to improve the lake.
Officials of the Water Resources Department said that they have sought the details of encroachments from the Tiruvallur collectorate. Once the information is obtained, steps would be taken to evict them.