Perumbakkam Periya Eri has almost gone dry, perhaps for the first time in history, prompting residents to send SOS messages to government agencies to protect and conserve the waterbody.
The residents have submitted petitions to the Special Officer, Perumbakkam Selection Grade Village Panchayat and Kancheepuram Collector to take steps to desilt and deepen the lake on a warfooting.
N. K. Raja, president, Nesamani Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association, Perumbakkam, says that is the first time they are seeing the lake dry. “We are fighting a severe water crisis and we are buying water cans for cooking and drinking. We are totally dependent on groundwater for our other water needs. We shell out nearly shelling out ₹1,500 to ₹2,000 a week to buy tanker water to keep our sumps filled. The panchayat supplies water through pipelines only once in three in Old Perumbakkam and every 10 days in New Perumbakkam,” he adds.
Residents allege that one of the two wells along the lake bed area is being exploited by private water suppliers.
“This is the ideal time to desilt and deepen the waterbody as it will boost groundwater in the area as well as the storage capacity in the lake once the monsoon sets in,” says Raja.
K. Sarangadass, convener, Federation of Perumbakkam Residents Welfare Association, says that the number of tanker trucks drawing water from the lake has increased since February.
The residents have also requested the Water Resources Department to clear encroachments from the lake area. “Steps should be taken to demarcate the boundaries of the lake and a walkers’ path should be created. Native trees such as palm should be raised on the bunds to strengthen and prevent breaches and soil erosion,” Sarangadass says.