Water bodies in southern suburbs are getting shrunk
TAMBARAM: A small section of citizens fighting to protect and preserve water bodies in the southern suburbs of Chennai find themselves alone as miscreants continue to have a free run damaging the precious natural resources with people's representatives and the government machinery maintaining a stoic silence.
A hue and cry was raised last year when the swelling waters of the Adyar river engulfed many residential localities near its banks and also when overflowing waters from lakes entered houses, causing severe damage. In 2005, anti-socials had a free run damaging lakes and in one lake near Tambaram, they even went to the extent of using explosives on lake bund.
All this was done to prevent encroachments in the heart of the lakes from getting submerged. This year too, there nothing seems to stop them. A portion of the bund of the `pazhaya Tambaram eri' was damaged to prevent encroachments, which resulted in water draining from the lake and getting stagnated in vacant spaces and entering residential places of West Tambaram.
And at the Rajakilpakkam lake, rainwater stored in the lake following rain has been drained out for the past five days.
A. Gopal, member of a residents' welfare association in Guruswamy Nagar of Sembakkam town panchayat, said it was a deliberate act by miscreants to protect structures that had come up inside the lake.
Channels had been dug up for about 200 metres to ensure that water from this lake got drained elsewhere.
Though they had brought the incident to the attention of authorities in Sembakkam town panchayat, the latter were simply unmoved.
The incident at Rajakilpakkam lake was a perfect example of indifference on the part of the government machinery, Mr. Gopal said.
Enquiries revealed that officials of local bodies simply did not have powers nor resources to preserve water bodies, and that the job was left to the Revenue Department.
Officials here too acknowledged their limitations, stating they could act only when the drive against encroachments was initiated by the State Government.
They blamed it on the lack of political will as elected representatives hesitated to act against encroachers, considering they were solid votebanks and could determine their political fortunes.
There have been shining examples of civic groups carrying on successful crusades to protect, at least, the remaining portions of lakes in their vicinities.
They argue that only when there was a perfect combination of citizens' pressure, political will and support from government agencies, lakes could be protected for posterity.