To save what is left of one of the biggest water bodies in the city’s suburbs, the government has recently begun removing floating vegetation from it.

For nearly a month now, the Public Works Department (PWD), along with the Pallavaram municipality has been clearing water hyacinths and other vegetation from the Pallavaram periya eri (lake), in what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind initiative in the southern suburbs.

P. Dhan Singh, Pallavaram MLA, who inspected the ongoing work on Tuesday morning, said that the project began after they appealed to senior engineers of the PWD and the Kancheepuram district administration to protect the lake.

When not controlled, water hyacinths (‘aagaya thaamarai’) can cover lakes entirely, impacting water flow, blocking sunlight from reaching native aquatic plants, and starving the water of oxygen, often killing fish. The plants also create a prime habitat for mosquitoes, which are vectors of several diseases.

Many residents in the locality had submitted petitions on the urgent need to protect what was left of the northern fringes of the lake, following which Mr. Singh had taken the matter to the district administration.

Explaining the work done, a PWD staff member said a catamaran had been hired and that workers rode in it to bring clusters of water hyacinths close to the shore. Earth-moving equipment then picked up the floating mass of vegetation and debris and dumped it on the margins.

“Once the entire mass of floating vegetation is cleared and also after the lake bund along the eastern side is strengthened, we plan to create a walkers’ pathway,” Mr. Singh said.

PWD engineers said that the work currently on at the Pallavaram lake was on of many other projects taken up in several other sprawling water bodies in Kancheepuram district.

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