David Manohar, an activist based in Pallavaram, said that the municipality workers removed the sluice during the restoration works on the lake a few months ago. “The Pallavaram municipality in the guise of desilting and restoring the Keelkattalai Lake on Pallavaram - Thoraipakkam Radial Road demolished and removed the gate on the eastern side of the bund, thereby making it easy for the encroachers to encroach the water canal leading from the Sluice onto the eastern side,” David alleged.
He also pointed out that the sluice was used to release excess water during the times of heavy rains thus saving nearby areas from flooding. Apart from removing the sluice, officials are encouraging the encroachers to dump debris on the canal by not taking any action.
It may be noted that Keelkattalai lake is under the maintenance of the public works department (PWD) and the Pallavaram municipality has been restoring the lake by obtaining a no-objection certificate from PWD.
When asked, Gujaraj, assistant engineer of public works department, said that the lake was handed over to the municipality in 2017 and the local body is restoring the lake at a cost of Rs 13 Crore. “Now, the lake is under full control of the municipality. We have come to know that they have done the fencing wrong too,” he added.
Meanwhile, David Manohar pointed out that the lake has been restored based on an order issued by the National Green Tribunal. “The order clearly states that the lake should be jointly restored by the PWD and the municipality. But, the lake has been completely handed over to the municipality,” he said.
On Tuesday, revenue department officials visited the lake and reviewed the boundaries of the lake and its canals. When asked C Mathivanan, commissioner of Pallavaram municipality, he said that he had not received any complaint regarding the encroachment and assured that he would visit the lake on Thursday to find out what is happening in the lake.