J. Malarvizhi

Reviving lake will benefit recharging of groundwater and prevention of flooding

Parts of lake being used as dumping groundOriginal extent of lake shrunk to about an acre

CHENNAI: Deepening and desilting the Ramapuram Lake would benefit the residents of both Ramapuram and K.K. Nagar, say representatives of the residents' welfare associations.

The original extent of the lake, which has shrunk to about an acre with the encroachments of a private engineering college, individual houses and garbage dumping, is currently being determined. Reviving the dying lake would have the twin benefits of recharging groundwater in Ramapuram and preventing flooding in K.K. Nagar, say residents.

They attribute encroachments and silting of the link between the lake and a surplus channel intended to carry flood waters to the Adyar river for the flooding of K.K. Nagar during heavy rains.

Officials have only been planning to improve storm water drains when the real problem was the falling capacity of the Ramapuram Lake, says V. Selvaraj, secretary of the K.K. Nagar, Fourth Sector Civic Exnora. Water had risen up to two feet and entered homes, forcing people to evacuate, during the heavy rains last year, he said.

While the water supply in Ramapuram was satisfactory, there had been some problems last year, according to R. Prakash, General Secretary, Exnora Innovators Club, Ramapuram. Reviving the local water bodies was important to keep groundwater levels high, he says.

Both expressed the concern that the approaching monsoon could prove to be another difficult time for localities adjoining Ramapuram, especially K.K. Nagar.

Ramapuram Panchayat President Natarajan said reclaiming the entire lake might prove difficult as more than 2,000 houses had been built on it, some portions were allotted legally by government bodies. Trying to use the remainder effectively would be a viable option, he said.

Parts of the lake, adjoining the arterial Bharathi Salai, are also being used as a garbage dumping ground. Residents allege that bodies are frequently cremated and disposed off on what remains of the lake's shrinking outline. Constructing a composting yard and an electric crematorium could help reduce these problems, said residents.

With a private sponsor offering monetary support to develop the area, the associations are hopeful of a public-private partnership, with residents and the panchayat officials participating, to revive the lake.