For decades it’s been misused, encroached upon and exploited. But this year, with a long-pending project finally seeing the light of day, Porur lake is set to be rejuvenated.

The Water Resources Department (WRD) has expedited work to revive the water body, in order to make it a drinking water source to meet the city’s growing demands.

Porur lake, which has a water spread area of 250 acres, is one of three water bodies — the others being the Nemam and Ayanambakkam lakes — that has been chosen for the creation of additional water storage for the city.

About 60 per cent of the Rs. 20-crore rejuvenation project has been completed so far, WRD officials said.

At present, the lake has water only along the portion abutting Mount Poonamallee High Road. The rest of it is dry, and a small portion has been encroached upon by huts. The lake covers the areas of Karambakkam, Porur and Telliagaram

Under the project, the lake will be desilted, and its capacity increased from 46 million cubic feet of water (mcft) to 70 mcft. This is equal to two days of water supply to Chennai.

Desilting work has already started, and the lake is also being deepened 2 metres, officials said.

Residents of Porur said that the lake, like many others, had become a dumping ground for garbage and the release of sewage. They also said that every year during the monsoon season, several localities around the lake became flooded when the lake bund was breached.

To prevent the illegal release of sewage into the lake, a portion of the Thanthikal channel that brings in surplus water from the Chembarambakkam reservoir to Porur lake has been converted into a concrete facility.

“We have concretised a 3-km stretch of the channel that passes through rapidly-developing areas such as Bharanipudhur and Iyyapanthangal. This will help prevent sewage from being released into the channel from these areas,” said a WRD official.

“We are also constructing a bund at a radius of five km and fencing the area around developing stretches,” he said.

S. Jayanthi, a resident of Porur, said: “The groundwater table in our area is now at a depth of 30 feet because the lake has water all through the year. When the lake is desilted, the water table will improve in the well at my house.”

Chennai Metrowater officials said they already had infrastructure in place to transport two million litres of water a day from Porur lake to various parts of the city. Once the project is completed by the end of this year, supply from the lake could be increased, an official said.

Encroachments pose a threat to progress

Despite improvement work progressing well, the lake continues to be plagued by encroachments.

Residents pointed out that huts in Iyyapanthangal are yet to be removed. Veeran, a resident of Iyyapanthangal, said that fresh huts have come up in the area recently.

There are now around 20 huts on the lake bed. If they are not removed, the perennial problem of the misuse of the water body and the breaching of the lake’s bund during rains would continue, other residents said.

Officials of WRD said steps are being taken to remove all the encroachments in a week’s time.

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