The neglected waterbody has been restored to its former glory with help from residents
Koneri tank, located a stone’s throw away from the area where the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping is to take place in Mamallapuram, now sports a new look.
The waterbody, which derives its name from the Tamil words ‘cow’s lake’, is located behind Krishna’s Butterball.
It was in bad shape and remained neglected for several decades. It is now a classic example of community-based water conservation efforts. Residents of the locality and volunteers from the Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) restored the lake, which had a thick cover of Karuvelam or Prosopis juliflora and was used as a garbage dump.
Drinking water source
Spread over 7 acres, it is the largest waterbody in Mamallapuram and was once a source of drinking water for residents.
“It is located close to tourist spots. Yet, not many tourists would have recognised it as a waterbody as invasive weeds had made it shallow. We undertook restoration efforts in 28 days after obtaining permission from the District Collectorate,” Arun Krishnamurthy, founder of EFI, said.
Debris and non-degradable garbage have been removed and the lake bed has been deepened. The storage capacity has been increased by 48%.
“We have provided a double embankment along the lake to reduce silt deposits and soil erosion. The waterbody has three recharge wells and trenches for better percolation. It is rare to have a freshwater body so close to the coast,” he said.
EFI has created G-shaped nesting islands to provide a breeding habitat for birds.
“The lake will soon have a bamboo garden and tree saplings to convert it into a biodiversity hotspot. We want to showcase that Tamil Nadu is a pioneer in society-based water conservation,” Mr. Krishnamurthy added.
Welcoming the initiatives, residents recalled that it was a longstanding demand and several representations were made to the district administration.
C. Govindaswamy, a resident of Anna Nagar, Mamallapuram, said: “Groundwater level in our area has dropped to 35 ft. Until a decade ago, it was 10 ft. We expect the lake’s restoration to recharge groundwater in surrounding areas.”