Staff Reporter

Officials claim successful demolition of illegal structures

TAMBARAM: With a successful drive against encroachments in Porur lake, government officials have claimed a rare success of demolising illegal structures from one of the largest water bodies near Chennai.

And the Public Works Department too has planned massive improvement works here.

According to officials, the water spread of the lake was originally 800 acres with a capacity to store 45.15 million cubic feet of water. The combined catchment area of the lake was 22.26 square km and water from the lake once irrigated 300 hectares of land. Owing to haphazard planning and unchecked growth that characterised urbanisation in the past five or six decades and mushrooming of encroachments in the past decade or two, the Porur lake was on the brink of extinction.

With agriculture too coming to a halt in the city's fringes, the lake served purely as a means to recharge ground water in areas adjoining it.

Officials of the Kosasthalaiyar Basin Division of the PWD said the water body was free from more than 6,000 illegal structures. Of the 800 acres, about two-thirds or 600 acres was encroached upon, they pointed out.

Priority would be given to restoration and strengthening of the lake bund that runs for a length of about 3,100 metres.

Desilting may not be taken up immediately as it would not be an easy task to clear the several tonnes of rubble left behind after removal of encroachments. However, deepening and widening of this lake would be taken up when conditions turned ideal.

Once the improvement works are completed, they expect the lake to have a storage capacity of 60 million cubic feet of water.

The officials said the Chennai bypass road ran through the heart of the lake, splitting it into two halves.

The bypass road also resulted in permanent damage to the lake's wiers, the officials said, adding they constructed an earthen channel for a length of 1.2 km to drain surplus water from the lake to be drained into the Adyar river near Manapakkam.

The restoration of the lake would boost their plans to augment water supply to the city, the officials said.

Activists have hailed the timely eviction of encroachments and said such initiatives should be extended to all other water bodies, big or small, in the suburban areas.