Arunmozhithevan – Fifty years later…

Once upon a time, in the wilderness with crisscrossing streams there stood a large body of water. The prosperity that this resource brought to the dependent human settlers made the region a hotbed for newcomers. With growing population, pressure on natural resource was never ending, a water body that stretched for miles was now rapidly shrinking owing to exploitation. At one point, the water body ceased to exist. Over a period of nearly 50 long years it completely vanished.

The lake in classification went from:

  • Least Concern (LC) …
  • Near Threatened (NT) …
  • Vulnerable (VU) …
  • Endangered (EN) …
  • Critically Endangered (CR) …
  • Extinct In The Wild (EW) …
  • Extinct (EX) until 2022 June.

Unlike wildlife extinction, bringing a dead lake back to life does not need advanced bio-engineering or mega bucks over a long period. Revival of a completely lost lake needs administrative grit, executioner’s field commitment and above all nature’s willingness.

The above combination has brought the Arunmozhithevan lake back to life.

An effort that lasted over 5 months, saw stage wise resurrection of every corner of the lake that was wiped out of human memory. The Cuddalore district administration committed to the revival of this lake, led by Additional Collector Thiru. Pavankumar G Giriyappanavar IAS initiated the survey, boundary demarcation and community intervention for a smooth restoration.

Environmentalist Foundation of India (E.F.I) as the funding-implementing agency took on the field efforts to revive the lake. Now, was this a template restoration? Definitely not.

Lost for 50 years, in 50 points we tell you how we revived this water body.

  1. Location: Near Parangipettai in Cuddalore district
  2. Farm fed-feeding lake
  3. N-S axis water holding
  4. W-E axis water flow
  5. 214m of the Southwest to Southeast bund
  6. 228m of the Northwest to Northeast bund
  7. 866m of the main bund that runs N-S in the eastern periphery
  8. Foreshore has an inclined gradient that stretches 300m
  9. Lake has a unique rectangular bed with a circumference of 896m which is nearly 68% of the lake bed
  10. With a total area of nearly 12 acres spread and additional 1.8 acres impact region, this is a farm field reservoir.
Arunmozhithevan Lake
  1. Farming activities had completely taken over the water holding area
  2. Embankments did not exist
  3. No regulated inlet or outlet
  4. Invasive vegetation had occupied considerable portion of the lake
  5. Siltation led to loss of water holding area
  6. Flooding during monsoons in the neighborhood due to lake’s poor capacity
  7. Sharp decline in groundwater levels due to inadequate storage
  8. Loss of biodiversity as the lake habitat was encroached
  9. Farmers who used pesticides and fertilisers had polluted the lake area further
  10. Due to a few encroaching individuals, several downstream farmers saw a decline in their produce as the lake had no water
News article on the Arunmozhithevan lake encroachment
  1. Revenue department field map based survey
  2. Geospatial assessment of the contour
  3. Deweeding with machinery to remove invasive vegetation
  4. Desilting of the lake based on Silt-Sand-Clay understanding
  5. Nesting islands made to support dependent lives
  6. Recharge wells dug to enhance percolation
  7. Percolation trenches designed to regulate freeflow
  8. Peripheral embankment developed as a double bund
  9. Double decker channel system at the South eastern belt for dual flow dynamics
  10. Increased storage capacity by 71%
The transformation of the Arunmozhithevan lake
  1. The lake will benefit 240 acres of direct farmers downstream
  2. The lake will benefit nearly 130 acres of indirect farmers in the flow area
  3. The lake will prevent flooding during monsoons for the nearly 2km downstream region
  4. The lake for the first time in 50 years will hold water even during peak summer
  5. Farmers in the region will now have the opportunity to grow 2 or 3 crops in a cycle for the first time in 50 years
  6. The lake will act as a critical local habitat for birds, reptiles, crustaceans, molluscs and other dependent life forms
  7. A boost to local livelihood as the fishing practices, crop cultivation add value to immediate neighborhood
  8. Livestock will benefit from a local reservoir
  9. Localized temperature regulation owing to the enhanced water holding
  10. Ecosystem economical benefits of cleaner air, fresh water owing to a restored natural reserve
The restored Arunmozhithevan lake

The last 10 points we wish to mesmerise you through 10 images in a slideshow, slide through.

Why is the Arunmozhithevan restoration a success story that should inspire those who are passionate about water?

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