Community-based approach sought to protect lakes

CHENNAI, AUG. 21. Citizens and water experts have come together to raise their demand for evolving a community-based approach to protect lakes and other water bodies in and around Chennai, at a meeting held at Pallavaram.

A collective effort to find a solution to the looming water crisis should begin at the community level, the citizens group said.

The first step would be to identify community assets, which had a potential for improving the water scenario, the experts told a meeting organised yesterday by the Water Bodies Protection Exnora.

The experts team, which met at Pallavaram before undertaking a visit to a few lakes and the Pallikaranai marsh, comprised G. Dattatri, former urban planner, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, R. Sakthivadivel, senior fellow, International Water Management Institute, M.G. Devasagayam, former civil servant, A. Vaidyanathan, professor emeritus, Madras Institute of Development Studies, and N.G. Anuthaman, Professor, Centre for Water Resources, Anna University.

Direct say

The community should understand the assets they have, what has been going wrong and who have been plundering their resources. T.K. Ramkumar, principal advisor, Exnora International, said the people should have a direct say on what should be done with their assets.

Map catchment areas

The catchment areas of the water bodies should be mapped, as much as the extent of the water bodies, the depletion over the years and the sources of replenishment. The thrust should now be on a community effort to stop pollution, clear the channels and revive all the water bodies in the suburban areas of Chennai.

The speakers also suggested a push for removal of encroachments from lakebeds and demarcating the extent of the lake with a fence.

The expert team visited Peria Eri, Ramswamy Kulam and Putheri in Pallavaram, Tamarai Kulam, Narayanapuram Eri and Keelkattalai eri near Keelkattalai and the Pallikaranai marsh.

At the marsh, residents of Mylai Balaji Nagar spoke of the problems they faced due to indiscriminate dumping of garbage in the marsh by the Chennai Corporation and the private company, Onyx, burning of the rubbish and discharging of raw sewage into the marsh. About 4,000 families had settled in the colony after eviction from different parts of the city during the MRTS construction.