Residents allege water is being extracted illegally from Kovilambakkam Lake
Residents of Rose Nagar in Kovilambakkam village panchayat near Tambaram are furious with State government agencies, especially their local body, for inaction over what they claim are glaring violations of rules governing protection of water bodies.
The residents, who have been waging a concerted battle against the ‘water mafia’ for some years now, said that a private company and many water tankers were indiscriminately drawing water from Kovilambakkam lake. At a recent meeting of Rose Nagar Residents Welfare Association, the residents sought the intervention of the Kancheepuram district administration to end this exploitation of the water body. They also said that in many instances, water was being drawn from farm wells.
The residents claimed that many pipes running to a length of more than 100 m ran through the area and one of these was in the heart of the water spread area of the lake. The pipe led directly to a unit which packaged mineral water in bubble top cans. The private company, claiming to be ISO 9000:2001 certified, had been drawing water in this manner from the lake for several months, the residents said.
Another pipe, smaller than the inlet pipe, drained the recycled water back into the lake. The residents said that in addition to the private company, several other hose pipes were seen in the vicinity of the lake. Water was sucked out of the lake using pumps for tankers which supplied the city, said M. Sundaram, a resident.
Eswaradhas, president of the association, while noting that extracting water from the lake with a hose pipe was illegal, echoed the feelings of many residents when he wondered why there was no strict action against violators. At the meeting, a decision was taken to launch a stir against Kovilambakkam village panchayat if no steps were taken to stop the drawal of water.
An official of the Kancheepuram district unit of public works department said extraction of water through such a method was prohibited. He said that in extremely rare cases, permission was given to extract water from lakes depending on the urgency of the requirement. Even then, those taking the water had to pay a tax to the government.
However, in this specific case, the officials said they were not aware of water being transported out of Kovilambakkam through hose pipes. They said that they would conduct spot investigations immediately and take appropriate action. The Kovilambakkam lake is spread over 75 acres and like many other water bodies in the city’s southern suburbs, has seen low water levels due to the poor monsoon last year.
Under such circumstances, indiscriminate sucking of the remaining water would spell the doom of the lake, residents feared.