Chennai: Over 300 volunteers have teamed up to clean the Nemilichery lake in Chromepet since June 10. The de-silting work will go on until July and is expected to be completed before the monsoon sets in the city.

This lake, which was part of a complex groundwater replenishing system along with the Pallavaram and Keelkattalai lakes, has been neglected while the other two have received Rs 15 crore from government to be de-silted and revived.

Disappointed citizens decided to take matters into their own hands.
Poclain machines have been since been hired to help loosen the layers of hardened plastic at least four feet deep into the lake bed which has choked the lake for decades. “Six truckloads were taken out in the last three days,” says V. Santhanam, a social activist. The lake which once sprawled over 27 acres is now only three acres. “Several lakes in the southern suburbs of Chennai have shrunk due to encroachment and illegal dumping of waste,” says Santhanam.

Residents from Pallavaram and its surrounding areas seek to revive this lake in time for the monsoon. “Water is supplied only once in five days. Demand is much higher than supply because of which residents have to buy water which is expensive,” said V. Shivram, a volunteer.

The money is being mobilised from public donations. “In three days we collected Rs 4 lakh. The poclain machines cost `1500 per hour, which is about Rs 20,000 a day,” says Santhanam, who has fixed the required budget at Rs 25 lakh.

The lake is also key to groundwater recharge in the area. “Groundwater in the four-kilometre radius of the lake will get recharged if this lake is ready in time for the monsoon,” says Santhanam. The water woes of Pallavaram, Hasthinapuram and Nemillichery would be reduced, he believes.

This effort is being made by residents of Chromepet led by the Federation of Civic and Welfare Association of Pallavaram along with the Pallavaram municipality, NGOs like Chitlapakkam Rising, Arrapor Iyakkam and Pasumai Peruga Sutham. Volunteers are seeking public donations to facilitate the process.

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