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‘Maintenance of tanks not at cost of environment'

Staff Reporter

Objective is to remove enroachments and desilt the tanks in the city

File Photo: M. Periasamy

Eco-friendly move: Coimbatore Corporation plans to desilt and maintain Singanallur Tank (above) and seven others in Coimbatore.

COIMBATORE: Coimbatore Corporation will take into confidence all concerned before proceeding further on the maintenance of eight lakes in the city, said Anshul Mishra, Commissioner.

Addressing journalists at the end of a public consultation, held here on Tuesday, he said the civic body was primarily looking at desilting and maintaining Singanallur, Ukkadam Periyakulam, Selvampathy, Narasampathi, Krishnampathi, Selvachinthamani,Valankulam and Kumaraswami tanks.

The objective was to remove encroachments, desilt and maintain the tanks, which helped replenish ground water.

The civic body was not for commercialising the maintenance of the tanks at the cost of the environment.

Mr. Mishra was referring to the apprehensions of the environmentalists, who raised serious objections to the proposals put forward by the consultants engaged for the purpose.

He also clarified that the Corporation had not awarded any contract or engaged any private agency to maintain the tanks, but was only studying the issue.

The consultants would now take the feedback from Tuesday's meeting and come up with a fresh proposal.

He, however, added that while the civic body was sensitive to the issues raised by the environmentalists, it was also forced to look for finances to maintain the lakes, which were polluted, under encroachment and in a poor state.

It was for that purpose the Corporation, which took over the lakes on a 90-year lease from the Public Works Department, approached the State Government's Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Ltd. for finance.

The agency hired the consultants and suggested public-private-partnership model for developing the lakes.

The consultants – Scott Wilson India Pvt. Ltd. and Almondz Global Securities Ltd. – in their presentation said an Ayurvedic village, integrated sports complex, cultural centre, bird and music parks, among others could be created near the tanks and the same would help in the maintenance and upkeep of the water bodies.

Vanitha Mohan of Siruthuli, a non-governmental organisation, said the water bodies should not be commercialised.

C.R. Jayaprakash, an environmentalist, said a Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology study had revealed that 114 bird species inhabited the lakes and of those nine had been declared endangered by International Union for Conservation of Nature.

On the proposed herbal garden on the banks of a lake, he said herbs grown with polluted water would do more damage than good.

Sooraj of Tirupur said the Corporation should remove encroachments and initiate measures to stop dumping of debris in the lakes.

Farmers' representatives also spoke on the occasion.

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