After decades, government begins desilting Chembarambakkam lake
We will be able to store 536 mcft more once the exercise is completed, says official
The Water Resources Department started the desilting exercise of Chembarambakkam lake on Wednesday. This is the first time in decades that the waterbody, which is one of Chennai’s major drinking water source, is being cleared of silt.
The project was kicked off to remove silt from the lake’s dry bed after nearly five months since the work order was issued. Kancheepuram Collector P. Ponniah inaugurated the project to desilt the lake and improve its storage capacity.
According to officials of the WRD, the water spread area of 2,316 hectares would be desilted over a period of eight years. Nearly 151.80 lakh cubic metres of silt would have to be cleared through 25.30 lakh lorry loads.
After 1993, the lake’s storage stands at nil against its capacity of 3,645 million cubic feet (mcft) now. The project has been worked out on a revenue generation model wherein contractors would have to pay for the silt removed from the lake bed, officials said.
At present the four lakes that supply water to the city could store only 80% of their water holding capacity due to silt accumulation over decades. “We will be able to store nearly 536 mcft more in the lake once the desilting exercise is completed,” an official said.
Revenue of nearly ₹191.27 crore is expected to be generated from the sale of silt in Chembarambakkam lake alone. And, the volume of storage capacity expected to the restored through the exercise is equal to the capacity of the upcoming fifth reservoir in Thervoy Kandigai-Kannankottai, Tiruvallur district.
The silt removed could be used for filling purposes and in brick kilns. Officials said the work was already in progress in Cholavaram lake where nearly 70,000 cubic metres of silt has been removed.
A similar project to desilt Red Hills lake for which work order was issued five months ago is likely to begin soon. However, the project in Poondi lake has been put on hold owing to a pending court case. If the project is completed in all the four reservoirs, they would have an additional storage of 2,000 mcft, the officials added.