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‘Illegal’ stormwater drain in Pallavaram irks residents
The construction of a stormwater drain right in the middle of the Pallavaram Periya Eri has raised a concern of the regularisation of the rampant encroachments within the waterbody, ranging from shanties to permanent structures and even commercial complexes.
The restoration of the lake started off on a discordant note, with several accusations raised against the Pallavaram Municipality officials, charging them of circumventing the rampant encroachment of the waterbody. On Tuesday, the construction of a stormwater drain began on the lake, which further complicated matters.
“The Pallavaram Municipality is constructing a drain right in the middle of the lake. The encroachments, which are permanent structures, are on one side of this drain. We fear that the municipality, which cannot construct a concrete structure inside the lake, is trying to demarcate the lake boundary through this exercise and assure the elite encroachers that their interests will be safeguarded,” alleged S David Manohar from city-based activist NGO, Arappor Iyakkam.
The Pallavaram Municipality is restoring the Pallavaram Periya Eri and the Keezhkattalai Lake at a cost of Rs 15 crores, with an additional allocation of Rs 7 crores for biomining the garbage dumped into the Periya Eri. An official from the municipality stated, “The stormwater drain is being constructed to drain rainwater from the nearby neighbourhoods into the Periya Eri during the monsoons. This will be connected to a larger drain in Ward 25 and will be an outlet channel of the lake.”
The lake earlier belonged to the Public Works Department (PWD), which had already demarcated the boundaries. A PWD official said that a government order forced them to cede the works to the municipality. “During our recent survey, we identified 1,350 encroachers who must be removed to restore the lake holistically. The boundaries have already been demarcated by the PWD,” said the official.
Barely a week ago, the Department of Geology and Mines seized seven lorries and four excavators of the contractor appointed to restore the Periya Eri for illegally transporting excavated soil from the lake to the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Radial Road, for which the expansion works are underway. The same contractor has been listed as the sub-contractor for the second project, halting the restoration of the waterbody.