Desilting of Chennai tanks hangs in balance

With the Northeast monsoon around the corner, the Public Works Department (Water Resources Department), which should have completed lake improvement works under the ‘Rejuvenation Project’ in Porur, Nemam and Ayanambakkam tanks to increase storage capacity, is yet to complete its renovation works.
Desilting of Chennai tanks hangs in balance
Fact File


PWD officials say that they have completed works in the Ayanambakkam tank and would take up work in the other two soon. According to PWD sources, the officials had in 2013 taken up works in Porur tank, on a sprawling 250 acres. They had desilted and deepened the water body. Also, as there was a huge encroachment in a part of the tank, they had removed it, largely. However, some of the works were stalled due to pending approval from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). Sources added that though the TNPCB provided a clearance certificate later, officials are yet to take up works. 
The Nemam tank, which is spread over 700 acres is one of the main drinking water resource in the city. However, in the recent years, the lake was hugely encroached, sources add. Further, as this tank was located in the village, people used to dump garbage and illegal sand mining was rampant. Nothing has been done so far to stop all these nefarious activities. 
M Bhakthavachalam, Superintending Engineer, PWD, Palar Basin Circle, Chennai Region, told DTNext, “We have fully completed works in Ayanambakkam tank. As far as Porur tank is concerned, as it is too full, there is no possibility to begin the job now. However, we are planning to undertake works in the Nemam tank soon,” he said. “We are determined to increase storage in these tanks as much as possible”, he added. When asked, why the department was not taking up works earlier, the official quipped that there was a legal issue. 
Meanwhile, activists have raised concerns over water management. S Janakarajan, Professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), who made study on tanks and lakes says, the PWD officials should have feasible plans for water management. “During the last year’s monsoon, around 250 tmc of water mingled with sea and this should have been stored in the waterbodies, but the PWD officials failed to do so, as they had not taken up any precautionary measures,” he said. 
Porur and Nemam tanks were some of the main drinking water source, which could be deepened by desilting to store large quantity of water however, works were left half way beyond comprehension, the activist added.

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