Thangal Lake, a reservoir of sullage

The Thangal Lake polluted with sewage from many localities. — Photo: K. Pichumani

The Thangal Lake polluted with sewage from many localities. — Photo: K. Pichumani  

CHENNAI Oct. 22. The Thangal Lake at Ambattur O.T. is growing from a makeshift drainage pit, which formed about 10 years ago, to a rising reservoir of sullage, thanks to the undue delay in the commencement of an underground drainage project for the area.

Those living near the lake at Vijayalakshmipuram have been forced to suffer the foul stench emanating from the lake and contaminated groundwater. The steady discharge of drainage from apartment complexes and houses, which do not have proper sewage handling facility, send their waste water into the lake. It has even spilled into the open grounds in the nearby areas like Prakasamgaru Street.

The sewage flows into the lake through open stormwater drains, say the residents.

The water body is partly covered by hyacinth and choked with debris, including domestic waste and non-biodegradable plastic waste. The lake, which was once used for irrigation has shrunk in size due to the dumping of refuse.

One of the residents living on the periphery of the lake, B.R. Prasad, said, ``It has been years since we breathed fresh air. Due to the unbearable stench from the lake, we have to keep all the windows closed''.

Groundwater in most of the households has already been contaminated by sewage and have even worms and could not be used, he said.

Another resident, S. Ravi lamented, ``While the other parts of the city have been harnessing rainwater, we have been harnessing sewage water''. Many residents complained that rainwater-harvesting system was not of much use as groundwater was completely contaminated.

The Vijayalakshmipuram Welfare Association secretary, K. Lakshminarayanan, said about 400 families living in the streets near the lake have been affected. ``Due to this problem, we have to endure water crisis almost throughout the year and we depend on Metrowater supplied through pipelines.''

P. Mangayarkarasi, a resident of Bhakthavatsalam Street, said ``most of us cannot afford packaged water and with the implementation of alternate day water supply, we have been forced to travel a few km to fetch drinking water''. The option of tanker supply was also ruled out as lorries refuse to ply in the area because of narrow roads, said the residents.

Living in such unhygienic conditions has led to fears about the public health implications for the residents. M.K. Indirakumar of Mu. Varadarajan Street said many people residing in the locality have been hospitalised owing to water-borne diseases such as jaundice.

To add to the residents' woes, a canal constructed on Patel Road was blocked and this disrupted the flow of water from the lake. Moreover, areas on one side of the lake opposite Vijayalakshmipuram including Menambedu and Pudur have been encroached upon, according to the residents.

A.V. Ramanan, a resident of Vinobaji Street, said ever since 1995, welfare associations in the region have been pressing for the need to desilt the lake and stop the discharge of sewage into it. The residents appealed that immediate action be taken to either commence the long-pending drainage project or identify an alternative site to discharge sewage.

The underground drainage scheme would be initiated when the issues such as finding suitable sites for sewage treatment plants were solved, said an official of the Ambattur Municipality.

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