Twenty-eight-year-old Renu Karthick has lived all his life in Zameen Royapettah in Chromepet, a neighbourhood near the lake. A participant in Sunday’s clean-up, he said that the lake had dried up since it was summer.
“We were cleaning up in the southern part of the lake, which is known as Hastinapuram Lake while the northern part is called Nemilichery Lake. The garbage we collected ranged from plastic to textile to bottles. In the northern part, the weekly fish market results in dumping of fish waste into the waterbody,” he said, adding that the clean-up will be a regular affair.
The waterbody has also been severely encroached said the youngster. “During monsoons, the water is diverted to patta lands nearby and our neighbourhood, too, gets inundated,” he added.
Tracing the importance of the lake, activist David Manohar, who also participated in the clean-up session, said, “It is not clear on how big the lake was earlier but now, it is barely 15 acres, threatened by encroachment around the waterbody. A few kilometres north of the Hastinapuram lake is the Nanmangalam Lake and on the south of it is the Sembakkam Lake.
During the monsoons, the flow of water is from Sembakkam Lake to Hastinapuram Lake and then Nanmangalam Lake. Despite its importance, the lake has been allowed to degrade by the Pallavaram Municipality,” added Manohar.
Of late, residents across Chennai and those living in the suburban areas are becoming increasingly involved in protecting their neighbourhood waterbody.