TAMIL NADU

Now, hope trickles for Veeraraghavan Lake

on the go:Work on removal of water hyacinths is under way.— Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

on the go:Work on removal of water hyacinths is under way.— Photo: G. Krishnaswamy  

Several agencies have taken up the responsibility of cleaning up the waterbody that is choked with litter, hyacinths

There is a ray of hope for Veeraraghavan Lake, one of the most contaminated waterbodies around Tambaram, with a host of agencies taking up the responsibility to clean it.

The cleaning up has begun in earnest and is being executed jointly by the Tiruneermalai Town Panchayat, Pallavaram Municipality and Water Resources Department.

Workers have started cleaning up several inlet channels — which were hitherto choked with litter — and removing water hyacinths.

The local people said the works were being carried out after a gap of four years after the Tiruneermalai town panchayat proposed to carry out some basic improvement work in the lake in 2012.

The lake is currently spread over 25 acres and is under the maintenance of the St. Thomas Mount panchayat union.

Recently, special officer in charge for flood mitigation work K. Rajaraman and Kancheepuram District Collector R. Gajalakshmi, who visited places such as Pallavaram and Tiruneermalai, ordered the cleaning of inlet channels and the drains which would take surplus water to the nearest water body.

After the inspection, work has been speeded up, said residents of Lakshmipuram in Chromepet.

Sewage generated from residential localities in Chromepet, Chitlapakkam and Tiruneermalai town panchayats, in addition to contaminated water from commercial establishments and private and government hospitals along Grand Southern Trunk Road, finds its way into the lake, according to officials. With residents in the immediate vicinity throwing waste in the lake, especially paper and plastic waste such as empty plastic and liquor bottles, the waterbody resembled a floating dump yard.

The water contamination has had a direct impact on the quality of groundwater in wells around the lake. “There have been demands from many quarters to carry out improvement work in the lake and also to make an attempt to restore the quality of the water. As the lake is under the control of the Panchayat Union, we were unable to do anything for a long time,” said an official.

To begin with, steps would be taken to remove water hyacinths and garbage. Deepening and desilting of the waterbody is also being considered during summer.

Strengthening the lake bunds and creating a walkers’ pathway are other initiatives being planned, which require huge fund allocation, said an official from Directorate of Town Panchayat.

“The government agencies can do a lot more. Many drains still remain choked, which needs attention by the PWD,” said social activist V. Santhanam of Chromepet. “Our demand is for complete desilting of all the waterbodies in the southern suburbs,” he said.

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