Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Panamarathupatti Lake

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The Panamarathupatti Lake, a picturesque water spread located near the city, will complete 100 years this year.
The lake, which has a massive water spread area of 2,139 acres, was built during the British period. The government in 1908 approved the scheme primarily to make it as a source of water supply. It was an engineering marvel in those days.
The municipal administration had manually dug the massive lake at Panamarathupatti and brought water to it from near-by Varattaru river. Intake tower and filter beds were established. The project was completed in 1911 at a cost of Rs. 9.68 lakh.
Residents in Salem town received protected water supply for the first to the tune of 10 gallons a day from the lake. It remained a major source of supply till Cauvery water from Mettur Dam reached Salem in 1952.
Then, the successive municipal administrations paid very little attention for the development and protection of the lake. This has led to massive encroachments on the lake bed.
At one point of time, about 50 per cent of the lake fell into the hands of encroachers. The lake was retrieved from the clutches of encroachers only in 2004.
After repeated representations, the district administration along with the Salem Corporation took up a massive exercise of clearing hundreds of encroachments from this sprawling water spread. The civic administration then initiated a development programme for the lake and strengthened its bunds.

It also built an office to monitor the lake and prevent further encroachments. It came up with a comprehensive plan to make Panamarathupatti a hotspot for eco-tourism.
When the city reeled under severe water scarcity, the civic body chalked out a plan to revive the old water scheme of brining water from Panamarathupatti Lake.
It also started repairing the old pipeline from the lake. But this project was abandoned for reasons best known to the officials.
Along with this project, the eco-tourism plan was also abandoned, with the officials failing to make any serious steps to get funds and start the work.
People in the city and Panamarathupatti block repeatedly expressed their wish to protect the pristine surroundings of the lake and turn the water body into a hotspot for eco-tourism. “Our demands are yet to be heard. We hope that the elected representatives and officials would come forward to improve the lake surroundings, as the water spread is going to complete its 100 years of existence,” the people say.
The government should organise a celebration to mark the completion of 100 years of the lake’s existence. It would help the younger generation to learn the history of the lake and realise their responsibility to protect it, they add.

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