How An Amazing Bunch Of Volunteers Refused To Let This Beautiful Pond Die

Posted on July 5, 2016 in Environment

By Arun Krishnamurthy:

Editor’s note: Youth Ki Awaaz and Environmentalist Foundation of India have joined hands to help save India’s water bodies. Watch this space for stories, photo galleries and ideas on what you can do to be a part of this growing movement.

This is the story of a pond in Karasangal village, South West Chennai. A small suburban village, Karasangal has three ponds, one large lake and a small connecting tributary of the Adyar River. Bound by such natural wonders, this sleepy hamlet suddenly found itself in the clutches of concrete development. And a pond that was once frequented by locals lost its sheen when bottled water became the order of the day.

One wrapper grew into a heap of trash, followed by a community dumping its waste into the pond. Thorny julifora shrubs took over the bunds, and hyacinth or ‘water cancer’ spread its creepers onto the water surface. The slow imminent death of the pond accelerated when construction debris started being dumped. Someone came up with an even brighter idea – let’s convert this pit (no more a pond) into an official dumping yard for local trash.

But the Chennai floods of 2015, which left a scar on many lives, also inspired the revival of urban water bodies. In an effort to reclaim and restore our natural treasures, volunteers at the Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), along with the local residents of Karasangal took it upon themselves to revive this water body, and the Kancheepuram District Authorities extended all the necessary administration support.

Karasangal restoration
Restoration of the pond in progress. Source: Arun Krishnamurthy

Restoration involves a couple of things – removal of all physical garbage from the lake and the removal of invasive weeds and desilting waterbodies to deepen and increase water holding area. There’s a need to establish a box pit for rain water harvesting and central islands for birds, snakes, frogs and other life forms to roost. ‘Bunds’ must be raised to prevent future encroachment and ensure storage of water, and native species need to be planted on the bunds to ensure increased green cover. Lastly, a protective fencing must be erected to keep the waterbody clean for all life forms.

A clean pond will ensure a temperature drop. The groundwater source would be stabilised, leading to an increase in storage of water for human consumption. Also, with a cleaner water body, there’s less chance of disease and infections.

We often assume environment conservation is about just the forests and animals, failing to understand that it’s for our own survival on this planet. Thanks to this community-based voluntary revival, the Karasangal Pond has sent a strong message to every Planet Buddy who is willing to do their best in conserving what is left.

You can also become that somebody who can help in conserving India’s freshwater habitats for all life forms. Get more details here!