Project promises fresh beginning for Chengalpattu lake

After several years of negligence, the much-abused Kolavoy lake, one of the largest water bodies in Kancheepuram district, might soon be rejuvenated.

The lake, also known as Chengalpattu lake, will be the first water body in the Chennai region to get a new lease of life under the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) of the Union ministry of forests and environment.

The primary aim under the NLCP is to infuse life into polluted lakes, which are perennial water sources, in urban and peri-urban areas.

The lake, a popular tourist destination, has been contaminated with sewage released primarily from Chengalpattu town. The livelihood of about 100 fishermen still depends on the water body, which has a capacity to store about 400 million cubic feet of water. The fisheries department generates an annual revenue of Rs. 1.80 lakh by leasing out the lake to fishermen.

Officials of the Water Resources Department (WRD) said the degraded lake does not serve as a major drinking water source. However, nearly 7.57 million litres per day is drawn from the lake and treated to be used for drinking at Mahindra Township.

According to officials, the project to conserve the lake is estimated to cost Rs. 125.19 crore. While Rs. 30 crore would be used for desilting and strengthening the bund, a large component of the funds would be go towards providing a comprehensive sewerage network in Chengalpattu town, which generates about five million litres of sewage daily. The sewage generated from the fast-developing town is estimated to be about 600 mld by 2026.

Adequate infrastructure for sewage treatment has also been proposed in 13 surrounding villages such as Veerapuram and Oragadam.

Unless the practices of releasing sewage and dumping garbage are stopped, a long-term solution towards the conservation of the water body could not be provided, officials said. The WRD is awaiting approval of a detailed project report submitted to the union ministry.

The report proposes to promote organic farming, aquaculture and also re-introduce boating on the lake.

“We could tap the resources from rejuvenated tanks that are not used for irrigation,” said an official. Officials of Metrowater recalled plans to transmit water from Kolavoy lake to Porur lake through a 50-km pipeline to tackle water crisis a decade ago.

A portion of the project funds would be used to desilt the water body and strengthen the bund

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