Chennai lakes struggle against construction

The Adambakkam Lake in South Chennai.

Chennai, one of the metropolitan cities of India situated on the East coast. It has close to forty recognised lakes which act as biofilters for the water of the city which flows into the Bay of Bengal.

Chennai receives majority of its rainfall in the form of retreating monsoons after the rest of India has received its share making the months of October, November and December the wettest time in the city.

Last year the city experienced its first flood during the month of December bringing the city and parts of its state, Tamil Nadu to a standstill for over 10 days.

According to an official release on Thursday, 347 lives have been lost in the period since October 1 throughout the State. As many as 3,889 heads of cattle have also been lost and over 1.16 Lakh huts have been damaged in the State_ The Hindu, December 11, 2015

The flood lead to large scale evacuation of people living in both high rises and slums. The people and civic authorities of Chennai are being blamed for this man-made disaster as it is primarily being linked to the loss of natural water bodies and wetlands of the city.

Here is a look at some of the premier lakes of Chennai which are struggling to survive amidst grappling effort of land mongers and construction giants to develop them for real estate.

1. Adambaakam lake 2. Pallavaram lake 3. KeezhKattalai Lake 4. Arasankazhani Lake 5. Kallu Kuttai Lake 6. Perumbaakam lake.

1. Adambakkam Lake

The Adambakkam Lake sees regular dumping of construction debris and garbage dumping.

The Adambakkam lake saw construction of a flyover in the last decade leading to partial filling and dumping of construction debris and garbage from surrounding communities. The lake despite its decadent state harbours a robust ecosystem, however, fishes in the lake have been infected with water from a nearby garage.

2. Pallavaram Periya Aeri

The white surface along the sides of the lake is chicken shredding consisting of feathers, claws and other unwanted parts.

This lake has also fallen victim to human construction as a highway runs in the middle of the lake. While one part of the lake is aesthetically clean, the other side has become a garbage dumping area.

The other side of the Pallavaram lake.

3. KeezhKattalai Lake

The lake allows migratory birds to nest on its dunes.

The Keezhkattalai lake has survived a past of sand mining activity and is one of the largest lakes in Chennai. Rigorous restoration work has been conducted in the last couple of years. Natural dunes and culverts in the lake has allowed bird nesting.

4. Arasankazhani Lake

The lake’s unique G- shaped culvert keeps wastes like thermocol and plastic away.

The Arasankazhani lake is one of the rare success stories of lake restoration where a dedicated group of volunteers gathered to keep the lake clean and continue to monitor it closely on a monthly basis. However, lack of imposition of regulation has allowed construction of complexes around the lake in a flood prone area. Last year, the locality lost 16 lives due to the flood.

5. Kallu Kuttai Lake

Rampant construction on the lake has meant its cost of restoration has gone up meaning there are fewer chances of the lake ever reviving.

Lake restoration group, Environmentalist Foundation of India see the Kallu Kuttai Lake as a lost cause as half of the lake has been filled for construction. Construction of a train station nearby has meant lesser chances for the lake to be revived as land estimation of the area has gone up.

The Kallu Kuttai lake in the year 2016 Vs 2008

6. Perumbaakam Lake

Despite all the efforts of restoration, the lake still floods due to choked drainage canals.

The Perumbaakam lake is also another success story with 40% restoration work completed for the scenic lake. The lake has inner and outer bunts created to stop garbage from reaching the main body of the lake.

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