The Twin Ponds of India’s Water Capital

There are urban centers in the world that proudly talk about their natural landscapes. Their water bodies, hills, gardens and more. Water bodies such as rivers & lakes/ponds often become the identity to a certain city. The tom-tomming is usually about the kind/type or number of these water bodies. There are even cases of exaggeration and exploitation in a few where a given natural landscape is used/promoted beyond saturation. Amidst all this charade quietly sits the champion city of Chennai with her endless list of water bodies. She is a water world to be explored, the large reservoirs of Poondi-Puzhal-Chembarambakkam-Cholavaram, the mega lakes of Madambakkam-Sithalapakkam-Korattur & more, the neighborhood ponds of Ennore-Tambaram-Ambattur-Madhavaram, this truly is an endless list of water bodies that adorn the landscape of a coastal city.

Of the zillion water stories from Chennai, here is a story that would bring in double delight. Simply because it is the story of a twin pond set up at Kosapur-Chettimedu in Northwest Chennai.

In the peak summer of 2022, E.F.I was approached with a special request to revive two ponds adjacent to each other in the fast growing neighborhood of Kosapur. A quick web search revealed a set of well concealed ponds with a canal to themselves sitting in a rapidly changing urban landmass. The usual excitement of reviving another set of water bodies gripped the team at E.F.I, but what made this project extra special was the fact that here are two ponds with no encroachments, with a defined boundary and an effort that would give us immediate results.

Why is it a big deal to have two ponds one adjacent to the other?

Simple, land as we know it is not levelled- or an easy gradient as we see it. There is so much to geography that a naked eye misses. The undulation, the undercurrent, the ubiquitous flow makes every watershed an exciting research phenomenon. The Chettimedu ponds despite being one adjacent, have a directional flow unique to each other. The inward Northern flow and the Western flow that impacts the Chettimedu ponds are drained eastwardly towards a canal that flows southwardly towards the Kosasthalayar surplus channel. This multidirectional inward-outward game of flow is what makes this a blockbuster.

Imagine a double pan balance, Chettimedu ponds resemble that. The two ponds being the either plates, the canal being the needle balancing the weights. A perfect balance system where water from either directions is captured and stored thereby enabling ground water recharge in opposite ends.

The wider expanse of the water holding area

Human neglect and exploitative use meant that these water bodies were turning into pits of despair. A collaborative restoration effort is today turning them into ponds of hope. Removal of legacy trash, invasive thorny shrubs, regularising the water holding area and optimising capacity, strengthening the peripheral embankment, creating new recharge wells with a percolation trench and above all adding native vegetation that would feed dependent lives.

Restoration work in progress

Chettimedu’s twin ponds are undergoing this restoration for the last 2 months and will be ready in time for the NE Monsoons of 2022. A twin pond system that was not meeting its true potential, is all set to recharge in a kinetic mode upon completion in 2 weeks.

Chettimedu ponds, are more like two peas in a pod in this case two ponds that bring peace.

Administrative Partner: Greater Chennai Corporation
CSR Partner: Karur Vysya Bank
Executing Partner: Environmentalist Foundation of India (E.F.I)

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