Addambakkam Lake – The sad remains of a lake that used to be…
I am Adambakkam Lake.
Many of you may not even know of my existence, even though the surrounding area is so thickly populated (unless of course, you live in Adambakkam or between the inner ring road and the Medavakkam Main Road), so let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I may not look like much now but a couple of decades ago, I used to be bigger, much much bigger. I was around 20 acres big, hardly the 5-acre Lilliputian I am today. I used to be wider too. And now, as though I have been starved, my width has been reduced from 200ft to about 9ft.
Here is an old picture of me and a picture of me now…
Would you believe it if I told you I used to be very beautiful before? Well if you don’t ask someone who has seen me about fifty years ago. I was surrounded by lush green trees and I was full of fresh water. I housed little fish and was a favorite of the boys and girls returning from school. Many a day did I offer my company to an idler sent to do his chores. The monsoons were my favorite season. I drank up all the water so my friends in the vicinity did not suffer because of any sort of flooding and I passed all the water to my friend the Pallikaranai Marshland.
And I had a lot of friends. I don’t just mean you, humans; I am referring to my feathered friends. The oriental darter, Black-Crowned Night Heron, the Purple Heron, the Black Drongo, the Purple Sunbird are some among my many, many close friends. They still visit me sometimes so make sure you bring a pair of binoculars if you want to meet them.
Sadly, I did not age gracefully. Why you ask? Well a few years ago, after the construction of the inner ring road (which ate away a portion of me), the Adambakkam MRTS and the promise of better transport with improved bus services, a lot of buildings started coming up around me. I was initially very happy and very excited. A lot more kids to admire me! What could be better?
But things did not go as I expected they would. Little did I know how terrible it would all be for me.
It started with the plastic. Initially, it was just a bag or a toy and I kept waiting for someone to pick it up and clean me but no one did. And because of all these buildings and encroachments around me, the water table started sinking. Earlier if you dug 10 feet around Adambakkam you would find water, now people dig 200 feet and still just get dirt and soil.
Then it got worse, a lot worse. S-E-W-A-G-E! That’s right… you heard me. Some of the residents near the area where too hesitant to pay for proper sewage lines and started putting all their waste into me. Or worse still, the people with septic tanks at home didn’t know their cleaners were dumping their waste in me. It all made me very sad. Even the kids stopped coming to see me. Their parents told them to not go near me when they themselves did this to me.
I wasn’t able to drink up much water during the floods of 2015 because of all the water hyacinth that grew on me due to the sewage. I flooded the Thillai Ganga Nagar subway near me. I think that’s when some of the residents realized that something had to be done. A few of them got down and cleaned me up but that was not enough to remove all those years and years of pollution. I need desilting and restoration.
Some of the residents want to clean and beautify me. They wanted walkways set up near me so people would realize my worth and stop polluting me. If this is actually done, the water table in Adambakkam and Nanganallur could be rejuvenated. A few influential people had promised to restore me a few years ago and I hope they start the process soon. Please help me by spreading awareness and volunteering to clean me. I hope you visit me soon before I disappear for good.
By Snehaa S.