Residents of a village near Tambaram are divided over the status of a water body in their locality.
While some of them support efforts by the elected representatives of the rural local body to protect and preserve it, others perceive it as move to grab a portion of the land around it.
The ‘nalla thanni kulam' (good or pure drinking water pond) is an ancient water body in Venkatamangalam Village Panchayat of Kattankulathur Panchayat Union in Kancheepuram District. Long time residents of this village recalled that the tank was the only source of drinking water for residents.
“Even during the time of the zamindari system a few decades ago, the water from the pond was the source for the zamin family,” said Vembuli Mariappan, in his late sixties.
The water, according to many residents of this village, was very pure.
However, over the past few decades, with the increase in population, the quality of the water deteriorated.
Fall in water level
Depreciating rainfall levels and increasing ground water extraction through deep bore wells led to the level and quality of water in the pond dipping. In the absence of proper sanitation facilities, most residents began to use the urinate and defecate around the ‘nalla thanni kulam.'
On Tuesday morning, a section of residents complained there were brazen attempts to take over land around the pond, even as elected representatives from the Panchayat and Kattankulathur Panchayat Union said they were only initiating steps to protect and preserve the pond and the area around it.
According to residents, several dozen fully grown palm trees were uprooted. While the trunks were chopped and taken away in vehicles, the remaining portions were set on fire.
On Tuesday evening, a section of residents led by former elected representatives of the Panchayat and their supporters laid siege to a lorry bearing a Krishnagiri District registration number.
The lorry was taken to the office of the Venkatamangalam Village Panchayat with residents seeking the intervention of the Kancheepuram District Collector to investigation and initiate action against those responsible for the felling of the fully grown palm trees.
Staff of the Panchayat Union as well as elected representatives from the local village Panchayat said that the trees were felled as they had dried up.
According to them, miscreants were trying to take over the land around the pond and they were only trying to protect the land that was meant for public purposes.
They were only carrying out the requests of the village Panchayat residents to protect and preserve the pond and also to create a green space around it.
Once the dense vegetation is removed, they would be creating a park on the lines of parks and playfields in Chennai Corporation and other similar amenities created and maintained by local bodies in the city suburbs.