CHENNAI: The summer months of 2019 will go down in the city’s history, though for the wrong reasons. Chennai, which on an average receives 140 cm of annual rainfall and the home to 4,100 water bodies was left completely bone dry and the government officially declared the arrival of ‘Day Zero’ on June 19. The situation in Chennai apart from receiving extensive national and international media coverage, brought to fore an issue which has for time and again been raised only to be forgotten – the city’s mismanagement of its water resources. However, on the bright side, the situation left the government and people alike with just one option- to join hands and act immediately.
The restoration of Gangai Amman Koil Kulam, a temple pond located off the ECR road in Injambakkam is a classic example of this partnership. Demonstrating that individuals and corporates too can and should chip in to restore our water resources, Grundfos India has restored the 2.5-acre pond, in partnership with NGO Hand in Hand. With the final phase of the restoration work having commenced, the pond which caters to nearly 1000 residents has been given a complete facelift. The project was officially kickstarted in 2017 and the work was divided into three phases. The first two phases involved cleaning the pond’s floor bed, construction of the filter bed inlet and outlet, strengthening of the bund, growing plantations along the water body and fencing. The final leg of the project, expected to be completed by March 2020 will see the installation of solar lights, deepening and bund straightening, planting of more trees, developing a walkway and extending the steps leading to the pond. On completion, the Grundfos and Hand in hand also plan to encourage community participation and responsibility by actively engaging the local residents through activities like angling and duck rearing in the pond, thus helping in its maintenance.
The temple pond, once covered with water hyacinth, wild vegetation and dotted with encroachments now stands with an impressive sheet of water, ducks swimming across and benches all around. However, the successful restoration took a few errors and a lot of learning, say, volunteers. “With the first phase, we had set the groundwork for the project. When the second phase was completed, we noticed that the lake was going back to its original condition mainly due to less community participation. So in the third phase, we will be actively engaging the local residents.”, says Mahathi Parashuram, Regional Head of Public Affairs, Communications & Engagement, Grundfos Asia Pacific Region.
The final phase will also focus more on strengthening the safety measures around the pond as more residents have started visiting it, says Mahathi. “It will also be made wheelchair accessible.”, she adds. The overflow from the pond will be channeled to the nearby agricultural lands and the volunteers hope that the pond will be interlinked to the neighboring water bodies in the future. While the lake will be maintained by the volunteers from the two organizations for the next three years, it will be eventually handed over to the community, says G Kannan, General manager, Natural resources management, Hand in Hand. A committee of 13 members comprising of local residents, members from Hand in Hand and Grundfos has also been formed to maintain the pond. The revenue earned through activities in the pond will be handled by the committee and utilized for maintenance, he explains. Monthly meetings will also be initiated to review upkeep efforts and obtain residents’ feedback.
Meanwhile, the corporation has finished the complete restoration of 50-60 water bodies and 100 others are in the final stages of completion, said Raj Cherubal, CEO, Chennai smart city project. The corporation had earlier announced that it will be restoring 210 water bodies in the city, before the start of monsoon. For this purpose, it has partnered with various corporates under the ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ initiative as well as several NGOs....