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About Restoration of Water Bodies

The Chennai Metropolitan has been largely dependent on ground water for its sustenance.In turn these shallow well and tanks were recharged only during the annual rains. Due to rapid urbanization and industrialization, hundreds of water bodies adjacent to the urban center and the extended city have already vanished or encroached upon and the rest are either on the verge of extinction or dumped with solid wastes and waste water effluents disturbing the local flora and fauna and also the lives of people living nearby.
Chennai Smart City Limited(CSCL) , a special purpose vehicle established to execute Smart-City projects, is looking at the possibility of bringing corporates and civil society organisations on board the waterbodies restoration programme.
The Greater Chennai Corporation has identified 210 water bodies across 15 zones in its jurisdiction, to be taken up for rejuvenation. Restoration works have already been initiated in many of the lakes and ponds. In a few of the water bodies the projects has been completed with great success.

Chennai : Good Old Days

The area of the waterbodies in Chennai city and its suburbs has shrunk from nearly 12.6 sq. km. in 1893 to about 3.2 sq. km. in 2017, mainly due to urbanisation, a recent study has revealed.

Names of places in Chennai are more than just geographical markers. They bring out what Chennai was not too long ago. Lake Area, Tank Bund Road and Eri Scheme are a few pointers that tell us how bountiful the city was in water resources.

Even as recently as in the 1950s, you could drive down Mount Road from Saidapet to Teynampet through what became CIT Nagar, bank left near where Gemini Flyover stands now, hop on to Tank Bund Road and continue motoring along, never too far away from water.

Cut to 2018: Chennai is all built-up and the names of places are just fluid reminders of the past.

It’s almost summer and the anxiety of Chennaiites is mounting. Despite official assurances, they are worried about how the supply of water will pan out. Today, motoring across roads means conducting tricky negotiations with water tankers that dominate not just our streets but other types of water supply too.

As the global community commemorated World Water Day recently as a reminder to use nature to overcome challenges and discussed the approaching ‘Day Zero’ in Cape Town, which is caught in the throes of a severe drought, Chennaiites recognise that their city is also part of the rather dismal scene. Rapid and unplanned urbanisation has systematically destroyed waterbodies, which act as sponges and help mitigate floods.

If the process is left unchecked, Chennai could soon be heading towards an ecological disaster.

Studying Depletion

A study by the Department of Geology, Anna University, based on a city map of 1893, has revealed that there were nearly 60 large waterbodies in the core of then Madras. The study traced the shrinking and vanished waterbodies through a series of city maps.

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