The Pallavaram ‘periya eri’ (big lake), true to its name, was once a sprawling water body, spread over nearly 200 acres. Today, all that remains of it is a small patch on the lines of a pond on one side and a hillock of garbage on the other and this is one issue for which more than one government department should be held accountable.
The dumping of garbage from all the 42 wards of the Pallavaram Municipality for nearly a decade is the main reason for the water body hanging by a thread. Residents of the locality blame State government agencies for having done nothing at all to prevent the rot from spreading. “The State government is simply watching the decay of natural resources.,” said an angry R. Krishnan, a resident of Bharathipuram. Recalling the times when the lake extended over a majestic 189 acres, he said nearly 25 acres had been lost to encroachments alone.
The construction of Pallavaram – Thoraipakkam Road – a project initiated to connect Chennai Airport and Rajiv Gandhi Salai – had split the lake into two halves . The portion of the lake to southern side of the road has completely been covered by garbage. “The quality of the water has deteriorated considerably and ground water in several thousand homes around the lake has gone from bad to worse over the years,” Mr. Krishnan added.
On the northern side of the road, the discharge of sewage from commercial establishments and homes and also effluents from some of the leather manufacturing units in Nagalakeni has affected the water. “The ground water quality is bad and water supplied by the municipality is insufficient. Most households in more than a dozen localities in the fringes of the cannot afford canned water too. Where do we go for safe water,” asked K.Radha, a homemaker.
Residents also fear fires such as the one that recently broke out at Pallikaranai might take place in Pallavaram too. According to the residents, the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Revenue Department, Public Works Department and other government agencies have done absolutely nothing to protect a precious water body. Civic groups have sought a joint inspection by representatives of the government agencies. Engineers of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply said that the completion of the integrated and modern compost yard at Venkatamangalam was the only solution to these problems, while those at PWD said it almost impossible to remove the several thousand tonnes of waste.