Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Water supply

Coming up from the southern districts into Chennai city, the NH45 rises up in a bridge just before getting into Porur. That bridge divides the Porur lake into two unequal parts, with the smaller part, shown in the picture on the left. Spread over 300 acres, the lake today is less than half of what it was about half-a-century ago. The 800 acres covered by the lake provided the water to irrigate about the same area of farmland. As the city spread out, the farms went away and the lake began to dry out, too, leaving the field clear for illegal encroachments.

Those encroachments came in the hundreds; as always, the ones who came in later were the innocents, lured by the prospect of having a small piece of land that they could call their own. As always, they were the ones who suffered the most when the government finally woke up and went on a massive eviction drive to clear up the lake bed, in November 2006. Since then, there has been a better effort to protect the remaining part of the lake, so that it continues to be a major source of water for the city's population.

There is much that remains to be done, for the deal was to clean up the lake, de-silt it and improve the storage works, once the eviction was complete. In the two years since, there does not seem to have been any change in the lake's storage capacity; as against the promised 60 million cubic feet, it still remains at around 25 mcft!

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