A lake killed by sewage and silt

The local administration is trying valiantly to revive Udhagamangalam's once-famous Boat Lake.

Published: Saturday 15 May 1993

THE NEW legislation comes into effect too late to save Udhagamangalam's famed Boat Lake, which has become a dead water body because of the sewage and silt accumulated in it. Unaffected by laws and legislation, the town's ancient sewerage system, built over a century ago for 10,000 residents and now hopelessly overburdened by the tourist influx, continues to spew dirt into the lake.

Residents point out that during the monsoon, untreated sewage water from their pipes overflows into the lake, which has become a breeding-ground for mosquitoes. In April 1991, 60 of the 65 ha area of the lake was choked by water hyacinth.

The local administration initiated a lake project, which was funded by the Hill Area Development Programme, for sewage treatment, removal of the water hyacinth, soil conservation and beautification. As a result, the hyacinth has now been fully removed, and district tourism officer M Balachandran says, "Any hyacinth that now grows in the lake is removed immediately by the state tourism agency." Local environmentalist A Subramanian, who is involved in the project, promises, "No house will be left without a sewage connection."

Most people living around the lake doubt the possibility of preventing absolutely the entry of sewage into the lake and wiping out hyacinth, but local environmentalists have not lost hope. Says Geeta Sreenivasan of the Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association, "The authorities are trying hard. If only the people visiting the lake would also take responsibility, we would have a clean lake."

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