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Citizen groups worry over PWD’s halt in lake maintainence
Residents near Nemelicherry lake are a worried lot after the Public Works Department (PWD) seemingly abandoned desilting works carried out at the 13-hectare waterbody two weeks ago. This has caused concern and anger among the local people, who pointed out that the PWD took over what they had started but failed to complete, putting at risk all the previous efforts to clean the lake.
“The PWD had promised to complete the work within 50 days from its commencement. But they have completed only half the work, and dumped the mound of debris at the site itself,” said R Ramadass, Bharathipuram Residents Welfare Association secretary. “If they fail to finish it on the time, then the energy, manpower and money invested for the clean-up will go down the drain,” he added.
It was the citizen groups that proactively initiated the work of desilting the lake after collecting their own funds – as much as Rs 10 lakh last June. While cleaning the lake, the volunteers had stumbled upon several layers of plastic and other domestic non-biodegradable waste, including old tyres and seat covers. In just a month’s time in June 2017, the group removed close to six truckloads of plastic waste from the lake bed.
Impressed by the mammoth exercise, Kancheepuram collector P Ponniah visited the waterbody and confirmed that PWD would take charge of the restoration. The municipal waste recovered from there were to be dumped in two quarries at Tiruneermalai.
As promised, the PWD did commenced the maintenance work this July, but only to leave it half-way through. “We are worried about the excavated silt. If monsoon rain washes everything away, then all our hard work will go down the drain,” said Sharmila V, a volunteer who was part of the cleanup effort.
V Santhanam, president, Federation of Civic and Welfare Associations of Pallavapuram Municipality said, “Several lakhs of public money were pooled in by the residents. However, with the delay in the collection and disposal of the garbage, there is a lurking fear about the early onset of monsoons. That will ruin all efforts.”
Santhanam added that there are talks about difficulty in finding a spot to dump the garbage collected. “We were told that an abandoned quarry near Tiruneermalai was cleared for the purpose. But now the local people there have resisted the idea. They are looking for an alternative site.”
When contacted, a PWD official said that the works were being undertaken at several lakes in the city and its suburbs as part of monsoon preparedness. “Before the onset of monsoon, all the works will be completed,” he assured.