Government agencies yet to take action to protect the 60-acre lake

Residents of Keelkattalai are shocked and angry over the dumping of construction rubble into the Keelkattalai lake over the past few days.

The lake, one of the few precious water bodies that hasn't, until now, been damaged by encroachment and pollution, presents a serene view to people travelling on the Pallavaram – Thoraipakkam Radial Road, say residents of Gandhi Nagar. Spread over 60 acres, the water body is fed by surplus water from the Pallavaram ‘periya eri', and rain water run off during the monsoons from Chromepet, Pallavaram and Keelkattalai.  The lake also attracts a wide variety of birds such as egrets, herons and cormorants.

Over the past few days however, construction rubble is being dumped into the dried-up section of the water spread area.

Residents wondered how such a brazen instance of pollution was going unchecked by government agencies, especially the Revenue Department of Kancheepuram District Administration and the Public Works Department. Residents told The Hindu that they had no objection to dumping of rubble in private land on the fringes of the lake, since this would only strengthen the bund. “But dumping waste within the original expanse of the water spread area will only pave the way for a gradual seizure of prime space within the lake,” said S. Narasimhan, a former three-time municipal councillor of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). “This is how encroachments begin in water sources,” Mr. Narasimhan said, adding that on the one hand, the State government spoke about the protection of water bodies, while on the other, it was doing nothing to nip this issue in its bud.

Several residents here are members of civic groups in and around Keelkattalai, and have appealed to government agencies to stop the dumping.

R. Seshadri, General Secretary, Federation of Residents Welfare Associations of Keelkattalai (West), said that a proposal to construct a main pumping station as part of an underground drainage project in Pallavaram Municipality in a portion of the lake, was met with stiff opposition from residents.

Residents took up the issue and successfully made the government shift the pumping station to a different location, he added.

Enquiries with officials of the Public Works and Revenue Departments revealed that they did not know about the issue, nor have they receive a specific complaint. However, officials said they would look into the issue at the earliest.

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