The once magnificent lakes belonging to the district of Nilgiris are now one of the most polluted water bodies in the country, owing to the pollution caused by the locals and the tourists collectively. Though there is a Sewage treatment plant (STP) present in the district its inefficiency in handling the entirety of waste produced has made it possible for one of its lakes to earn the title the as the most polluted lake in all of Tamil Nadu. The lake in the discussion here is the famous Ooty Lake which is considered to be one of the most popular international tourist hotspots in Tamil Nadu.
The lake was artificially created by John Sullivan in the year 1824 with intentions of fishing and the use of ferries as a mode of transport that revealed the beauty of the surrounding area. Later on, when the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation took authority over the lake they had allotted areas of the lake for developments in other areas. The new structure built included a bus stand, a children’s park, and a race course. These encroachments on the lake have shrunk its size from a massive 65-acre lake in 1824 to a meager 23-acre lake in the present. The decisions were taken by the government to improve what they thought was important at the time and hence no one else could question their destructive actions toward the lake. The lake still continues to reduce in size because of the process of silt deposition and irregular desilting can also further reduce its capacity.
During the monsoon large amounts of plastics can be seen floating on the surface of the lake and when enquired about it the officials from the Nilgiris district administration said that during rain, there would be an increase in water flowing into the STP, which does not have the capacity to handle and treat the amount of sewage flowing into it. This caused the water to flood over the sluices of the plant. “This could have resulted in more plastic entering the lake,” said an official to The Hindu publication.
Source: The Hindu
Moreover, the ecological functioning of the lake has been severely affected and as of recent times, the harm inflicted on the ecosystem is transforming into a “problem” for humans. A study by N. Moinudheen, an independent researcher in the Nilgiris, and wildlife biologist A. Samson recorded a high prevalence of flies in the lake, and their paper on the habitat usage of the flies has been published in the International Research Journal of Insect Sciences. This paper included topics such as the artificial origin of fly habitats that have led to the spike in their population and that if the colony is left unchecked could lead to severe contamination of all edible and drinkable resources in the area. Then such a situation would cause the spread of innumerable diseases among both humans and other living creatures.
Even remote tribal villages that have to yet completely adapt to modernity are being affected by pollution in the district. Many small villages comprising of people from the Toda tribe have been struggling to voice out their problems caused by a glycerine-producing factory that is present in close proximity to them and is allegedly releasing untreated effluents into a hamlet that finally terminates in another lake. The hamlet passes through several villages and has been causing problems for the residents. The allegations are backed by research papers on the water samples taken from the waterbodies connected to the water coming out from that particular factory and the results do prove that the water has extreme levels of pollution in the collected sample.
The need to protect such important elixir sources has not yet been much higher than it is today. Just the amount of importance such places hold is enormous and we all do know it. Our ignorance towards such life givers will create only a situation where our insignificant lives will fade away just like how we left our lifelines to die because we thought it was not important. If the current path of destruction continues there will be nothing left to destroy but ourselves. Ironically, we are doing that already hence we must take care of ourselves and then automatically we will take care of what we deem necessary. This journey that we will embark on must be with hopes and not with expectations. Let us come together with hopes united by cause to change what we can no matter how small or how big.
- Premkumar, R. (2022, July 26). Pollution in Ooty Lake increases after heavy rain. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/pollution-in-ooty-lake-increases-after-heavy-rain/article65684763.ece
- Thiagarajan, S. (2017, October 4). Water bodies near Ooty polluted by industrial effluents. The Times of India.
- Ilavarasan, N., Ilangovan, R., & Prasanna, P. R. (2016, November 1). Water quality assessment on Ooty lake in Nilgiris district. ResearchGate.