As sewage and neglect destroys Nemilichery lake, citizens step in to clean it up


Garbage everywhere on the lake bed! Pic : V Santhanam

Nemilichery lake, which once was a lifeline to the farmers in Pallavaram, is slowly being destroyed. With unabated encroachment and illegal dumping of unsegregated waste, the lake is dry and its bed is completely covered with plastic.

In order to save the lake for the next generation, volunteers from various organisations and business entities took up the cleaning work on 10 June. “More than 250 volunteers from Federation of Civic and Welfare Associations of Pallavaram, environmental organisation Pasumai Iyakkam and Parvathy Hospital took part in the clean up,” said V Santhanam, a noted civic activist.

Years of exploitation by the Pallavaram Municipality and locals is evident from the fact that the lake, spanning 27 acres, is choking with plastic. “At Least four feet of the lakebed is filled with plastic. We have deployed Poclain machines, with the expenditure of Rs 25 lakhs, to dig out the layers of plastic,” said Meenakshi Sundaram, an activist, expressing his gratitude to the individuals and corporate entities, who helped the effort by donating funds.  If it were to be desilted before the monsoon, water storage in this lake would reduce the water woes in the nearby localities including Hasthinapuram and Nemilichery as it will rejuvenate the ground water table.

Volunteers who took part in the lake cleaning, blame the Public Works Department for the poor maintenance of the lakes. The next step, volunteers say, is to demand that the municipality stop sewage from the surrounding areas from entering the lake.

Local conservancy workers chip in towards the clean up. Pic: V Santhanam


Poclain machines were pressed into service to dig out the trash from Nemlichery Lake. Pic: V Santhanam


More than seven truckloads of garbage was removed by the volunteers on 10 June. Pic: V Santhanam


Citizens from all walks of life step in to help clean up the lake. Pic: V Santhanam


A satisfying day for volunteers from all walks. Pic: V Santhanam
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About Laasya Shekhar 287 Articles
Laasya Shekhar is an independent journalist based in Chennai with previous stints in Newslaundry, Citizen Matters and Deccan Chronicle. Laasya holds a Masters degree in Journalism from Bharathiar University and has written extensively on environmental issues, women and child rights, and other critical social and civic issues. She tweets at @plaasya.