The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the government of Tamil Nadu to remove encroachments on a lake in Pallavaram, Chennai, and has given a month’s time to fulfill the order.
According to reports, the case dates back to 2015 and was based on a petition filed by Confederation of Organisations for Integrated Urban Development (COIUD) against the encroachments and release of sewage water from nearby areas into the Paalkeni Lake in Pallavaram. The NGO had stated that due to the encroachments, the lake’s area has shrunk to 10 acres from its earlier size of 35 acres. It had also mentioned that the ground water table in the region is also getting contaminated due to untreated sewage in the lake.
Slamming the government for its lethargic attitude in addressing the issue despite the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court orders on removal of encroachments from water bodies, NGT judges K Ramakrishnan and Saibal Dasgupta gave a month’s time for the state government to clear the lake off the encroachments. The report submitted by the Tahsildar, identifying squatters on the lake bed, is pending action with the District Collector.
The government had earlier sanctioned Rs 92 lakh for the renovation of the lake, however, the Pallavaram municipality did not start any work related to the renovation, the petition had added. In December 2019, the NGT had directed a committee with different government agencies like the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to prepare an action plan by March 31 to address these issues. The committee had also identified 67 houses that were discharging sewage into the lake illegally.
De-silting of the lake, to make it fit for rain water harvesting, is in progress and is expected to be completed by May 31.