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Hyacinth robbing Chetpet lake of life

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Ghost of lake: The Chetpet lake which is in dire need of attention.
Ghost of lake: The Chetpet lake which is in dire need of attention.

K.Lakshmi

Though not used for drinking purposes, it was a source of groundwater recharge

CHENNAI: Chetpet lake, one of the important waterbodies in the city, is crying for attention with overgrown water hyacinth almost covering the entire water spread area.

Residents in the neighbouring localities, such as Kilpauk, Egmore and Chetpet, note that though the water was not used for drinking purposes, it served to be a key source of groundwater recharge for the surrounding areas.

S. Sumathi, a resident of Kilpauk, said the lake was choked with water hyacinth and left neglected for over a year now.

Moreover, it has been heavily encroached upon, particularly near the Chetpet railway station. Also people scaled the compound wall of Kilpauk Medical College Hospital to fish in the water, she said.

Anglers club

Residents of Chetpet recalled that an anglers club used to function till 1940s in the Chetpet Lake whose members visited the small island in the midst of the waterbody for fishing.

R. Madhavan, secretary of Nowroji Street Civic Exnora, said the water body often remained bone dry. The dry lake bed was even used for film shooting.

“We took the initiative to connect the stormwater drain network in our area to the lake five years ago. The water level in the lake has not gone down after harnessing rainwater,” he said.

Aquarium

He demanded that the anglers club be revived and an aquarium established in the area belonging to the Fisheries Department. A small park and a walkers’ path could also be developed around the waterbody, Mr.Madhavan said.

Officials of Fisheries Department said that of the total area of 15 acres belonging to the department, the waterbody is spread across nearly nine acres.

“The State government had sanctioned Rs.40 lakh to clean the overgrown water hyacinth and desilt the lake in 2007-08. But, we are waiting for the water level to decrease to carry out the work,” an official said.

Fish culture is not done now as the lake was not a fresh water source anymore. However, as the water quality is not saline, the lake has a few varieties of fishes such as rohu, catla and mrigal. Breeding is monitored to assess the water quality.

Moreover, it was the only such research facility in the city and the fresh water aquaculture lab there tested the water and soil samples for fish culture. About 50 farmers from the neighbouring districts got samples tested for a nominal rate every month.

The fish species that prey on mosquito larvae are supplied from the fisheries office to civic bodies, including Chennai Corporation and also to residents to eradicate mosquitoes.

Admitting that waste and sewage were being dumped from KMC hospital and slum areas close to the railway station, the official said it was only minimal and action is being initiated against offenders.

Officials also said that a concept paper for beautification of lakes provided by Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited (TNUIFSL) was pending with the government. TNUIFSL officials said that the concept paper suggested creation of an eco-park and also revival of the anglers club besides construction of buildings to generate revenue.

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