The pond between the skyscrapers takes its first steps in the restoration progress.
The small waterbody of 0.86 acres lies between the Hiranandani housing properties in Egattur, south of central Chennai. The bunds are overgrown by lush green bushes and weeds. The Thalam Kulam appears as a green paradise in between the blocks.
The Buckingham Canal can be found just a few meters away from the waterbody and birds fly over to the Thalam Kulam to take a rest. Lizards can be found too.
The pond looks healthy and clean, but at a second glance some problems come up. The green vegetation consists partially out of invasive species such as the Prosopis juliflora. This plant has been introduced decades ago to meet the rising demand for wood for heating purposes. By now it can be found all over the Indian subcontinent. With the invasive character of the plant, it represses native plants, takes their spot and destroys the original ecosystem in the way.
Due to the growth of plants and weeds on the ponds banks and the development of silt, the water holding capacity has decreased. The waterbody is not able to hold the amounts of water it used to take. This can lead to mayor floodings during monsoon season.
In addition, different sorts of trash, mainly plastics, can be found around the pond.
The start of the Pongal festival days has also acted as the beginning of the restoration of the pond. Around 80 environment enthusiasts volunteered with E.F.I. and cleaned the pond with united efforts. More community-based events will take place in the coming weeks to make the locals more aware of their local environment and to introduce the benefits of a pond restoration.
Also, the excavator started its work desilting the pond and freeing up the bunds from weeds. The work will be finished in the next weeks before further work such as bund formation can start.