The acute water shortage faced by residents across several parts of the Chennai Metropolitan Area has galvanised several residents welfare associations and socially responsible clubs into playing a more active role in restoring and protecting waterbodies in the city.
Many residents welfare associations have not stopped with cleaning activities but are also getting government agencies to take steps to protect waterbodies in their localities. In their endeavour to protect waterbodies, Rotary Clubs and Lion Clubs have also been actively participating in the rejuvenation of waterbodies.
Club chips in
The Rotary Club of Madras has, for instance, helped revive a badly maintained lake in Sholinganallur. Today, the lake is filled with freshwater and is a source of water for the residents of Balaji Nagar, TNHB Layout and other localities along Rajiv Gandhi Salai, reducing their dependence much on tankers.
P.N. Mohan, a former president of Rotary Club of Madras, said that the members have been taking up several welfare activities and and one such involved the renovation of Puducheri Keni Lake, at a cost of ₹14 lakh. The club will be taking up renovation of the Puthu Thangal Lake in Tambaram West on Friday. The lake, with a spread area of 30 hectares, is in poor condition and will be renovated at a cost of ₹40 lakh, he said.
“The club members understand that lake renovation does not mean only cleaning and desilting, but is a holistic process where the focus is more on maintaining the lake, for which funds are allotted annually,” he said. As part of the renovation projects, the club does an environment study of the lake, desilts it and gets an assurance from local residents to protect the waterbody. He called upon corporates to chip in with corporate social responsibility funds for renovating lakes in the city.
Several residents welfare associations in south Chennai, citing poor maintenance of waterbodies as the primary reason for water scarcity, are forcing local bodies to rise to the challenge of restoring and protecting lakes.
Residents welfare associations in Sembakkam, Rajakilpakkam, Vengaivasal and Madambakkam have formed a federation to desilt and clean two lakes in Rajakilpakkam and Vengaivasal by engaging an excavator. V. Seetharaman, office-bearer of the Federation of Rajakilpakkam Residents Welfare Associations, said the two lakes are being cleaned up with the support of Lions Club and Sabari Green Foundation.
The residents welfare associations of Chitlapakkam, Nemillichery and Velachery have also taken upon themselves the task of desilting waterbodies by raising funds.
The residents of Chrompet have formed the Veeraraghavan Eri Protection Committee and are demanding that the Pallavaram Municipality stop letting sewage into the lake.
V. Santhanam, a member of the lake protection committee, said in the case of both the Veeraraghavan Eri and Tiruneermalai Lake, the Pallavaram Municipality has allowed sewage inflows. “It has become a vicious circle for the local body to damage the lakes and then come up with a project to desilt the lake. If the lakes had been protected from the beginning, there was no need to spend lakhs to restore them repeatedly,” he said.
A senior official of the Pallavaram Municipality denied that sewage was being let into the Tiruneermalai Lake and Veeraraghavan Eri. The official said a proposal to renovate Veeraraghavan Eri along with three other waterbodies had been sent to the State government and was awaiting approval.