The idea for a plan to develop the lake in the Padur neighbourhood on OMR,Chennai, came up during a visit of OMR Greens, comprising mainly Mantri Synergy residents. Most of us were there for the first time; and there are folks in our OMR neighbourhood who are not even aware of the existence of a natural water body with potential to be developed into a recreational area.
Our visit was an eye-opener, in the sense that we found the lake was being subject to reckless abuse by residents in the vicinity of the lake. Besides washing clothes and bathing, vehicle owners brought their three-wheelers and even trucks for a wash in the lake water. Those who stray into the lakeside for an early morning walk may find themselves intruding into the morning routine of people who come there because of lack of toilet facilities in their houses.
A key lesson we learned during OMR Greens visit was that any lake conservation programme has to start with mobilizing opinion among residents in the neighbourhood; and building a row of public toilets on the lakeside. The provision of public toilets would enable us to gain local support to put up a fence. blocking public access to the water front.
V R Volunteers, a group of service-minded IT professionals at Kelambakkam, has offered to carry out a lakeside cleaning programme. They can also be involved in creating public awareness among Padur residents. Considering that a drinking water scheme with lakeside pumping station was implemented with Asian Development Bank loan in 2008, makes lake protection imperative, if this water body has to remain a source of drinking water. Lakeside fencing and provision of public toilets would be a necessary first phase of Padur Lake development.
The measure of our success in mobilising support from panchayat, neighbourhood high-rise residents, Hindustan University, and IT companies with funds for such community projects for the initial phase would determine the course of the second phase for development of the lakeside into a recreational zone, with walkway, jogging track, open-air theatre and children's play area. Turning Padur lake into a recreational zone would, in the medium-term, help raise property value in the Padur neighbourhood.