There seems to be no end to the onslaught on Tirupananthal lake in Pammal near Tambaram. It has been in the spotlight for over a decade with the residents and environmentalists fighting a fierce battle with the local body and other government agencies to protect the waterbody.
Persistent efforts from the residents and civic groups since early 2000 forced the Kancheepuram district administration to initiate steps to protect the lake.
While the struggle resulted in the government taking steps last year to prevent contamination, discharge of raw and untreated sewage has commenced again.
Last year, about Rs.50 lakh was spent on creating stormwater drains around the lake to prevent grey water from entering the waterbody. Residents of Eswaran Nagar told The Hindu that for the past three months, sewage tankers had been causing havoc by letting out untreated and raw sewage, generated from houses and commercial establishments, into these stormwater drains.
Residents said that at least a dozen load of sewage was being let out into the stormwater drains on T.R.Muni Street near Eswaran Nagar. The sewage passed through Anna Salai and Eswaran Nagar First Main Road before draining into the water body.
The tanker owners operated between midnight and early morning, making it difficult for residents to keep a check on them. Residents complained that the foul smell was unbearable. Residents who go for a stroll in the morning and evening hours have noticed the stark change in the lake's water quality.
Near the drain's outlet at the lake, sludge has accumulated in huge quantity and this has resulted in stagnation of sewage all along the drains for a long distance, posing a health hazard. The residents have complained to the police and Pammal Municipality and appealed to the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply to intervene and prevent further damage to the fragile eco-system.
Pointing out that the State government had spent considerable amount of tax payers' money in creating the stormwater drains, walkers' pathway, landscaping and illumination, residents said it would all go waste if this form of pollution went unchecked.
The Tirupananthaal Lake helped in recharging ground water in domestic wells for a few square km around it. Water quality in both the lake and the wells around it would irreversibly deteriorate if the contamination continued. All good work done over the years would go waste in a matter of months, the residents feared.
Making it clear that sewage tankers had no right to let out the sewage in places other than the designated spots such as the sewage treatment plant in Perungudi for instance, officials said they would ensure that this contamination was stopped at the earliest.