Sewage contaminates sprawling Perungalathur Lake

Unchecked encroachments and pollution are taking a severe toll on many lakes in the southern suburbs of Chennai, and the Perungalathur ‘periya eri' (big lake) is no exception.

 Originally spread over 150 acres, the lake's expanse is now less than 100 acres, due to unchecked construction of unauthorised structures, according to officials at the Kancheepuram District unit of the Public Works Department (PWD). Officials said that encroachments around the lake, which had began to trickle in some decades ago, had now assumed enormous proportions.

Residents said State government agencies, especially rural and urban local bodies, abetted and expedited the decay of such precious water bodies, and this was a cause of great concern. They pointed to a storm water drain that runs along Third Cross Street in Tiruvalluvar Nagar, right into the lake. Used water and sewage from several hundred homes in at least four Wards of Perungalathur Town Panchayat drain into the lake at this point.

 Residents in Tiruvalluvar Nagar were cautious while speaking to the media, fearing harassment by party cadres and elected representatives. They said the storm water drain had been constructed by the town panchayat administration only after requests from residents in the locality as well as elsewhere, in order to prevent stagnation of water and sewage in residential localities.

 Officials at the Directorate of Town Panchayats said such a problem was not just restricted to Perungalathur, but extended to other town panchayats and even municipalities. A Chitlapakkam resident pointed out that there was a liquid waste treatment plant on the fringes of Sembakkam Lake. The project was started to prevent or at least reduce the inflow of sewage into the water body, but it hardly served any purpose now. 

Many of the 300 water bodies in the southern suburbs of Chennai are under stress due to pollution.

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