New Life for 12 Lakes in Chennai: Will Facilitate Groundwater Recharge, Help Prevent Floods During Monsoon

CHENNAI: Many of Chennai’s lakes may be dying, but Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority is giving it a shot at reviving 12 of them. In the next two years, 12 lakes in Chennai and its suburbs — including those at Perumbakkam, Perungudi, Velachery, and Puzhal — will undergo a metamorphosis.
The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) has prepared a road map to revive, fortify, beautify and create space for community activities at these lakes.

CMDA had earlier announced that 10 lakes at Perumbakkam, Retteri, Mudichur, Kolathur, Sembakkam, Ayanambakkam, Velachery, Adambakkam, Puzhal, and Madambakkam would be developed for Rs.120 crores. The plan agency has now added Perungudi and Porur lakes to the list.
“Urban planning has been perceived as concretisation of land, replacing blue spaces with grey. However, this perception overlooks its multi-faceted nature. A significant aspect of urban planning involves creating blue-green spaces.

By prioritising the creation and maintenance of blue-green spaces, urban planning can lead to more sustainable and livable cities. This approach not only addresses environmental challenges but also fosters a harmonious relationship between urban development and nature,” said Anshul Mishra, member secretary, CMDA.
The idea is to preserve the lake as a public space and prevent encroachment in the future. A special purpose vehicle will be formed to implement the project.

As part of the roadmap, CMDA has created a database for each lake that includes issues faced by the water body, history of encroachment, its characteristics, and how they can be improved and redeveloped.

Work has been demarcated for the stakeholder departments involved. The water resources department will ensure removal of encroachments, bund strengthening and construct surplus drains. Metrowater will plug illegal sewage lines.

CMDA is preparing a flood master plan, and the lake capacity will be augmented accordingly. CMDA teams have taken inputs from local residents and created a theme for the development of each lake.

For example, the Perumbakkam lake is touted as a community lakefront and bird interpretation point. This will be achieved by enhancing biodiversity and creating habitats for birds, butterflies and dragonflies.

Though experts welcome the move, they point out that there is a lot more that needs to be done. L Venkatachalam, an environmental economist at Madras Institute of Development Studies, said flood regulation is a vital function of water bodies. “They should create a database on issues faced by lakes, including biodiversity loss. The history of the water body is important. They should identify feeder canals,” he said.



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