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Korattur lake turns into a pool of sullage

By K. Lakshmi

CHENNAI, SEPT. 26. Korattur Lake, a prime source of water for Ambattur Municipality has turned into a reservoir of sullage in the last five years.

The water body, which was used for irrigation and earlier supplemented the city's drinking water supply, has shrunk in size due to dumping of refuse. It is now partly covered with hyacinth and choked with debris, including industrial effluents.

Shorn of a suitable waste disposal system, residential complexes and industry units have diverted their waste into the open storm water drains that flow into the lake. Those living in Srinivasapuram, Agraharam and Venkataraman Nagar have been worst hit.

Spread over 996 acres with a capacity of 232 million cubic feet, it is one of the largest water bodies in the Ambattur circle (Tiruvallur district). With the lake neglected, residents have little option than to depend on water tankers

Residents of Srinivasapuram allege that industrial effluents and waste from a dairy had contaminated the groundwater. The effluents were being released through a culvert at Kakkapallam.

S. Krishnakumar, president, Korattur Exnora Innovators' Club said: "In some houses, the groundwater turned milky white three months ago. Since then, we have been depending on tanker and packaged supply." K.R. Harikrishnan, a resident, says that besides paying a monthly water tax of Rs. 65, they were spending Rs. 500 for water from private suppliers.

Residents said sewage from Padi, Mannurpet, East Avenue of Korattur and Pattaravakkam were being released into the lake. It had even spilled over to the open grounds in Agraharam, hindering construction work. Moreover, encroachments had come up on one side of the lake at Karukku and Menambedu, they say.

Councillor of Ward 24, G. Vijaya, says residents of three wards had been affected by the sullage. Besides groundwater contamination, they have also had to endure a foul stench.

"If the lake is desilted and deepened for storing rainwater, they need not depend on the poor quality water being supplied," she said.

The other councillors say several representations to stop the discharge of sewage had been made to the municipality. Recalling the directive from Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board to suspend 10 lakh litres of water supply to municipalities from February 1, an AIADMK councillor says restoration of the lake would make the municipality self-sufficient.

Municipal authorities, however, say they have started work on restoring the lake. Some sections were being deepened and used as a percolation pond. Encroachers will be evictedand steps taken to prevent discharge of sewageinto the lake, after which it will be desilted.

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