The Sivan Koil Kulam (pond) on arterial Arcot Road was one of the 47 to be taken up for restoration and rejuvenation at ₹109 crore in 2019. Tenders were passed for 27 packages in November 2019 but none has been completed. Officials say the Covid-19 pandemic hit the progress.
A recent audit by Arappor Iyakkam, an anti-graft NGO, has shown that apart from a few concrete walls, no other work stated in the tender has been taken up. TOI has images of Sivan Koil Kulam taken in 2020, 2021 and 2022 showing the progress made. Replies to queries under the RTI Act by M Radhakrishnan, an activist and Arappor Iyakkam member who headed the lake audit, show that of the ₹3 crore, ₹52 lakh was paid to the contractor for the incomplete concrete trough. “This is in violation of the Tank Protection Act, 2007, that says the government is a guardian of the water body. They should protect the boundary, restore it, ensure no encroachment takes place and it is free from illegal activities,” he said.
In the last three years, Arappor has completed audits 42 of the 47 tanks and filed several RTIs to collect information. “The government should investigate this. This project will impact the groundwater recharge and rainwater harvesting in the area,” he said.
Greater Chennai Corporation chief engineer S Rajendiran said the projects were proposed and implemented by the previous government. “We will investigate and try to restore the pond to its original capacity,” he said.
Superintendent engineer S P Balasubramanian said two lakes had been taken up in the package and one was dropped. “There were some problems in the implementation due to mining department clearances. Pathways and parks were planned around the concrete structure. We will look into this and ensure the restoration is as per rules,” he said. Rejuvenation work on 30 tanks is complete and work on 11 tanks including Sivan Koil Kulam has to be taken up, her added.