A community-orientated lake restoration project

The story of Sholinganallur lake

Next to OMR in the south of Chennai lays a big water body. The Sholinganallur lake or named Thamrai Keni Lake has a total area of around 26.4 acres and is one of the biggest lakes around south suburban Chennai.

Thamrai Keni translates in lotus pond, but there were no lotus flowers to see at Sholinganallur lake before the restoration started. The bunds were poorly formed, eroded, low structures. As a result the water levels were low and during heavy rains neighbouring houses feared floods.


Also lots of sewage and solid waste largely plastics got dumped into the lake. Open defecation was also common. Also the water quality was bad and toxic caused by this mistreatment. The ecosystem was severely damaged. Livestock such as birds, fish or water buffaloes decreased in amount.

E.FI. started to implement a community-orientated restoration project, to revive this huge water body. This means practically, that the locals were involved in the restoration progress in order to understand the importance of clean water and environment in general. Including the community in clean-ups and plantation as well as organising school-trips and a further culture event at Sri Ponniyamman Temple engaged them to be more conscious about their own environment.


From July till September the restoration was under progress in several steps.

  1. Garbage removal via clean-ups together with the local communities to remove non-degradeble items and build an environmental awareness among the people.

  2. Leveling and de-silting the lake bed to increase the holding the capacity. And remove invasive crops.

  3. Bunds formation and strengthening with the removed soil to avoid eroding or breaking bunds and secure the neighboring areas and the water capacity.

  4. Creating G-shaped islands, as well as recharge pits up to 4m deep for better percolation and water-flow.

  5. Plantation of native species like palm and bamboo to strength the bunds and establish a habitat for birds and other native living species.

  6. Fencing the lake to prevent from dumping and defecation.

Excavator building bunds
G-shaped island
Recharge pit

Now the Sholinganallur lake has become a habitat for many kinds of birds such as the lesser whistling duck, the red-wattled lapwing, the pheasant-tailed jacana and whiskered tern. The amount of fish has also increased.


With the monsoon starting the lake is now able to hold an largely increased amount of rainwater. The Sholinganallur lake is an example to show what is possible, when a lake gets restored with the help of the local community. It has become a green oasis, but also further maintenance and consciousness are needed to conserve the nature.

Volunteer for India & her environment with E.F.I.

~Jai Hind~


3 thoughts on “A community-orientated lake restoration project

  1. Padua area is similarly infested with garbage on the muttukadu lake shore behind Hindustan University. Similar project could be undertaken with the help of Hindustan University students and Padua village residents.

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