A lake district in Chennai?

Kancheepuram district doesn’t seem to have an expository sobriquet. If I could weigh in with a suggestion, it would be “Lake District”. Of course, that name is taken. A huge piece of England is known as the Lake District. But then, we named an endorheic body of water stretching from Muttukadu to Mahabalipuram after the Great Salt Lake in Utah, United States.

Around 20 major lakes have been identified in the Lake District of England, and hence that name. In the Kancheepuram district, there are over 80 lakes that are considered significant on account of their proximity to human habitations. So, why can’t we share this name with the English?

Almost every major road leading off the IT Corridor has lakes, some of them sprawling. The best example is the Thoraipakkam-Pallavaram 200-feet Radial Road, which has Narayanapuram, Keelkatalai and Pallavaram lakes.

The Keelkatalai and Pallavaram lakes are now being restored. Thanks to this exercise, which includes de-silting and bund-strengthening works, these lakes may never again break their bunds even during heavy rains and floods. That is great news.

A lake district in Chennai?

But, the exercise should not stop there. It should extend all the way to eco-tourism. The Government agencies concerned will start considering it, if residents and other stakeholders in the region press for it. They will be most persuasive if they seek to be a part of the process, and also define it.

And, where and how do they start this process? To start with, they could focus on the Keelkatalai Lake, which is quite expansive. As it is located justseven kilometres from Thoriapakkam, a central part of the IT Corridor, software companies could organise a lake festival centred around it.

If a group of residents in Perungudi can organise a festival celebrating the lake found in their neck of the woods, year after year, why can’t the IT industry? A lake festival is aimed at creating a lake-centric, environment-conscious community. It uses arts and culture to meet this objective.

The poets from the Lake District of England have been honoured through the centuries as Lake Poets. Literature and everything else seems connected to the defining geographical feature of the region. A similar, but a locally-relevant connect can be established in our own “Lake District”. How we do this, is certainly going to be a challenge. But, behind every challenge, hides an opportunity for growth.

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