Residents and environmentalists are concerned over the impact of a sewage collection well, which is under construction near Madipakkam lake, on the waterbody.

Preliminary works on the well, part of the underground drainage project of the Pallavaram Municipality, began a week ago. A huge pit was dug and as there was a hard rocky surface, workers used explosives to blast them, residents complained.

As part of the project, it has been proposed to construct pumping and lift stations at different locations in addition to a main pumping station in Keelkattalai. Work on the well began recently, much to the shock of residents of Madipakkam Village Panchayat and tail-end areas of the Pallavaram Municipality at Keelkattalai.

They said the Madipakkam Lake, which was originally spread over 100 acres, had now shrunk due to encroachments. Contamination in the form of draining of sewage into it was also on the rise. Construction of the collection well of the sewer project would irreversibly damage the waterbody, which serves as a source of drinking water for entire the Madipakkam Village Panchayat, they added.

The rural local body had sunk more than two dozen borewells around the lake and water tapped from here was pumped to six overhead tanks and then supplied to residents of the panchayat.

Members of civic groups said that while plenty of ‘poramboke' land was available, government agencies had chosen to destroy fringes of the lake, especially its inlet point.

Since 2007, Madipakkam and Keelkattalai residents had been protesting the absence of attempts by the government agencies to protect the inlet point and water channels draining rainwater run off into the lake.

Officials of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply allayed fears of residents stating that there would no scope for sewage seeping into the lake or overflowing from the well and entering into houses nearby. The well would have a capacity to collect a few lakh litres of sewage generated in and around Keelkattalai area and would be pumped immediately to the main pumping station.

The project was launched in January 2006 and the estimated cost then was Rs. 36 crore.

After revisions due to cost escalations, it stands at Rs.75.33 crore. Scheduled to be completed by 2008, it had already missed several deadlines. Officials and elected representatives are confident of commissioning at least a part of the project at the earliest.

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