Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Life keeps oozing out of Kanakkan lake in Pondy

Life keeps oozing out of Kanakkan lake

Rajesh B. Nair
— Photo: T. Singaravelou

AN APOLOGY FOR LAKE: This waterbody at Thattanchavady, which was once a main water source for irrigation, is now a shadow of itself

PUDUCHERRY: The Kanakkan lake at Thattanchavady, once a main source of water for irrigation, is now almost on the verge of extinction. The sprawling lake is now full of weeds and has turned a breeding ground for mosquitoes, neglected as it is.

Residents of Thattanchavady said they were compelled to stay put in their houses during evenings, thanks to mosquito menace. Several children had fallen ill owing to mosquito bite, said Nagalingam, a resident of Thilaspet-Kanakkaneri.

“It is so scary to live in this area during heavy rain. One side of the lake is without a bund and water overflows with all the slush. Even poisonous snakes enter our houses when the water overflows,” he said.

Though efforts were made in the past to desilt the lake, it did not materialise, he said, adding that the lake, behind the upcoming Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Government Medical College and Research Institute, had not been cleaned for the last decade.

A few years ago, the government came forward with a plan to convert the lake into a tourism spot by providing boating facility. Though a jetty was constructed to operate boats, the plan was abandoned owing to the setting up of the medical college.

The society formed to run the college had proposed to the government to hand over the lake to develop it as a “serene recreational area.” They also proposed to go in for efficient ways to harvest rainwater in the lake. However, the proposal did not find favour from “certain quarters in the government” and it was put on hold, a senior official said.

Officials, on condition of anonymity, said that as per the Environment Act 1986, no industry (big hospitals are also considered industry) should be allowed to come up near the area of water body. “The setting up of the hospital near the lake itself was a violation. Handing over the lake to the hospital authorities would go against rules issued by the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment on preservation of water bodies,” they added.

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