The heavy rain that Cyclone Nivar brought along have filled almost all the waterbodies in Chennai and its neighbourhood – almost, but not all. There still are lakes and temple tanks that belie the intensity of the recent showers. Some of them remain bone dry, either because the inlet channels are encroached or damaged, or because there is no such link to take the water.
"We were happy to hear that there will be continuous rain in Kancheepuram, hoping that lake will be filled. But Vadapalaiyam is the only lake in the district that is not full despite the heavy rain," said Murugan, a farmer from Uthiramerur.
Subramani K, another farmer from Uthiramerur, said the culverts linked to the lake have been encroached. The officials did not remove encroachments before the monsoon despite repeated requests, he said, adding that now they are hoping that the surplus water from Cheyyar river will fill the lake. “That is our only hope,” he said.
“They should clean the lake and remove encroachments at least before next year,” said another farmer.
But when contacted, a senior PWD official from Kancheepuram said the lake was not completely dry as alleged, claiming that it has 40 per cent water now. “We are working on the issue and the encroachments will be removed soon,” he said.
Even worse is the case of some of the temple tanks in Kancheepuram that remain bone dry. The district is famous for the large number of temples, and their tanks also help replenish the groundwater table to ensure that the residents do not face water scarcity.
However, said local residents, the tanks in the heart of the temple town are completely dry though the district received substantial rain. This includes some of the biggest tanks like Rangaswamy Kulam, Poiyakulam, Ashtapooja Perumal Koil tank and Mangalateertha Kulam. Sources said there are more than 10 tanks in the town that remain dry. This despite most of the lakes in the district reaching 75 per cent of their capacity.
An official from the Kancheepuram Municipality said the responsibility of maintaining these tanks was that of the temple administrations. The Municipality is working on removing the encroachments in the tanks, and works are also in progress to ensure that rainwater flows to them, the official added.