A vacant plot along the recently rejuvenated Thazhambur lake, off Rajiv Gandhi Salai, is being used as a dumping ground, residents of the area said.
Heaps of garbage dumped on the site along Karanai Road was often set on fire, residents said, adding that it posed a health hazard to them. Spread over 30.6 hectares, the Thazhambur lake is a freshwater source for the locality that heavily depends on groundwater for its needs.
The waterbody can now store up to 22 million cubic feet of water after the restoration efforts of Care Earth Trust, a city-based biodiversity research organisation, with funding from Hinduja Leyland Finance.
Kannan Sethuraman, a resident of Thazhambur, noted that the size of the garbage dump had been increasing for the past four years and hospital waste, too, was often dumped there. Thick smoke emanating from the fire engulfed the area and often caused irritation in the eyes and throat.
The Arihant Heirloom Flat Owners Association and the Adroit District apartment association had represented the issue to the local body and the Kancheepuram district administration. Residents complained that the waste was dumped by private vehicles and those belonging to the panchayat. This affected nearly 800 apartments and houses around the lake.
Anbu Vahini, a resident, said the lake was recently rejuvenated and was also now home to several species of birds. It was also major source of groundwater recharge. Frequent burning of garbage close to the lake may contaminate the freshwater body.
She recalled that the local body had promised to take up scientific disposal of waste through composting during the hearing of a case filed by Madipakkam residents at the National Green Tribunal, Southern Zone, in 2017. However, the panchayat was yet to adopt a solid waste management policy.
Residents demanded that the local body shift the dumping yard to an alternate site.
Jayshree Vencatesan, managing trustee, Care Earth Trust, said the lake had been restored and fenced. Residents had planted saplings along the waterbody. Waste was being dumped on the outer periphery of the lake. Security personnel had been deployed to prevent the misuse of the waterbody, including the dumping of waste.
Sources in the Thazhambur village panchayat said the vacant plot was being used after approval. “We are unable to find an alternate site in the locality as it has become urbanised. We are planning to seek permission from Greater Chennai Corporation to convey waste from Thazhambur to its dumping site.”