Oussudu lake’s potential remains untapped

The immense drinking water and irrigation potential of the Oussudu lake, the largest freshwater lake in Puducherry with an ayacut of more than 2,000 acres, remains untapped.

The accumulation of an enormous amount of silt in the lake has drastically reduced its storage capacity and, in turn, denied water to irrigate farms in nearly 50 villages, the locals say.

The Oussudu lake has a storage capacity of 540 million cubic feet, but the actual storage is much lower. Farmers have consistently demanded the desilting of the lake and the implementation of long-pending modernisation works, including the strengthening of the bunds, to improve the water-holding capacity of the lake. “In 2008, the government had proposed a ₹40 crore drinking water project with the Oussudu lake as the source. The project envisaged the supply of 20 million litres of drinking water every day. As part of the project, it was proposed that a treatment plant would be set up at Muthirayarpalayam and treated water pumped to houses through existing pipelines,” says K. Ramamoorthy, president of Sembadugai Naneeragam, an environmental organisation.

“Though funds were sanctioned, the work did not take off due to reasons best known to the officials. The pipelines laid from the Oussudu lake to the Aayi pond for a distance of 4.5 km are broken at many places. The project should be revived,” he said. “The traditional water storage structures are being destroyed due to siltation, lack of upkeep or pressures of urbanisation, he added.

“The government is interested in infrastructure projects, but it has no interest in this basic activity. Siltation in the lake is defeating the very purpose of the sprawling waterbody, and the government is not serious about it,” a water expert said.

During the recent spell of rain when there was a heavy flow of water from the Veedur dam and Sankarabarani river, the Oussudu lake did not get as much water as it should have due to heavy siltation and encroachment of the feeder channels.

“It is important that these waterbodies are desilted and rejuvenated. This will not only improve the storage capacity but also reduce the impact of floods at the local level,” Mr. Ramamoorthy said.

“Though Puducherry received heavy rainfall during the current monsoon season, we have been losing the vital storage capacity of major waterbodies like the Oussudu and Bahour lakes due to lack of desilting,” an official said.

Official sources said a proposal to draw drinking water from the lake had been hampered by environmental clearance regulations as the waterbody was a protected bird sanctuary.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 10:52:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/oussudu-lakes-potential-remains-untapped/article37742850.ece

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