Thursday, 17 August 2017

Giving a facelift to Adambakkam lake

The biggest lesson that the Chennai floods in 2015 taught the city dwellers is the importance of preserving the natural wetlands for proper watershed management. A proper watershed management includes a balanced recharge-discharge of rain water. The lakes in the urban landscape play a major role in recharging of groundwater. Even after knowing their significance, it’s disconcerting to see how the lakes in the city are shrinking in size and are ill-maintained even now. One of the many lakes that is dying a slow death is the Adambakkam lake.

A satellite view using google map

Adambakkam lake replenishes the ground water table of the thickly populated resident area of Adambakkam, Palavanthangal, Nanganallur, and Velachery. Earlier this lake used to spread across 13.685 hectares, but now only less than 3.5 hectares remain. This shrinkage in size is due to massive encroachment by residential and commercial buildings.

The massive encroachment has not only decreased the water carrying capacity of the lake but has also resulted in sewage from the encroached area flowing into the lake. Commercial establishments located at the lake bund are discharging sewage directly into the lake. 

Dumping of construction waste has also degraded the quality of the soil.

In addition to, the settlements have occupied the lake with their herds of cows and goats that graze around the natural vegetation.

In addition to, the overwhelming growth of water hyacinth is also a growing concern. Water hyacinth, an invasive free floating species, has covered the entire surface of the lake. As already known, this growth prevents entering of sunlight into the lake and thereby decreases the oxygen content in the lake. Moreover this voracious growth of the plant has also resulted in the lake becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes. 

Despite these adverse factors, the lake surprisingly supports a wide range of urban wildlife that depends upon the lake for its survival. Sighting of fresh water species like little cormorant , common kingfisher, Moorhen, heliotrope moth is an indication that there is still hope for the lake.

In the past, there have been several media coverage highlighting the pitiable state of the lake. Despite the residents’repeated demands for restoring and de-silting  the lake in the past 15 years no action has been taken till date.  Only the increased involvement of the local residents and sufficient media coverage can transform the lake into a vibrant self-sustaining ecosystem.

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