The protest was planned to urge the Public Works Department (PWD) to finish the pending works related to the Nemilichery lake. Further, the members wanted to register their three concerns with the government authorities.
Elaborating on the issue, the president of the Federation, V Santhanam, said, “The authorities should immediately stop sewage being drained into the lake. Also, the rest of the desilt work must be completed before the onset of monsoon.”
“The Welfare association wants the PWD to remove the remaining garbage piled on the shores of the lake. We voluntarily undertook cleaning works. During the recent rains, the sand was washed away and around 25 per cent of the garbage is left on the shore itself,” he said.
“We had obtained permission to organise fast at the venue. After hearing our decision, the PWD officials assured us that the desilt work will be completed before the onset of monsoon,” he added. The Federation is persistent to continue with their scheduled plans due to lack of trust over the authorities.
Santhanam said, “We are going to celebrate Gandhi Jayanthi on October 2. On the same day, we will be organising a fast to register our grievances.” A top official said, “We have promised the Federation to complete the pending works before the onset of monsoon. At present, there is no obstacle related to the project. Earlier, the Ministry of Mines granted a permission to the PWD to carry out the works, which expired on August 28.” The PWD was unable to complete the work before the specified date. Soon after, the PWD stopped the work, mounting the concerns of residents.
However, residents remain skeptical if the works will be completed before the monsoon. A resident of Nemilichery, Nirmal Benedict, said, “The PWD had promised that the water bodies will be desilted before the monsoon. They never kept up with their promises. We don’t expect any magic this time too. The low-lying areas in the locality will be inundated and flooding of roads will be a problem in this season, too.”
Last June, the Federation cleaned the lake to mark the Environment Day. Later, the association members decided to clean up the lake after raising funds from the localities.
The volunteers cleaned up three-fourths of the lake before PWD intervened and took over the project from them. Subsequently, the PWD agreed to desilt the waterbody and to dump the excavated sand laced with garbage in a Tiruneermalai Quarry. But, the PWD failed to completely remove the sand from the shore.