MADURAI: Madurai city limits and its adjoining areas have as many as 38 water bodies and they have been the primary water source for residents. Lacks of maintenance and public neglect have hastened their decline over the years. Meanwhile, both encroachments and development projects resulted in the full or partial disappearance of several water bodies over the years.
The district court complex, Madurai bench of the Madras high court, Mattuthavani integrated bus terminal and Madurai corporation buildings, in fact, came up at the cost of environment, particularly water bodies. Several houses within the city and its outskirts were built on the beds of water tanks.
The existing 38 water bodies also face extinction, though the city badly needs their revival to boost ground water level. Very few tanks now serve its original purpose -- water storage. Environmentalists, civic activists and NGOs have in the recent past taken steps to revive dying tanks in the city.
Dhan Foundation, which conducted a research on the water bodies in Madurai district, exposed the impact of poorly conceived development projects on water bodies. "Bibikulam tank is now a dense residential area. The radio station, its employees' residential area and provident fund office are on Sorikulam tank. Similarly, Tallakulam tank area was converted for building Madurai corporation office, and the Law College. The proposed Tamil Sangam building is on a piece of land in the old tank area. Senkulam tank is now housing Madurai district court complex," said J Kanagavalli, a water expert from DHAN.
It is over Pudukulam tank that the state water supply and drainage board, press colony and the depot of state transport corporation came up, she added.
The once sprawling Sinthamani, Thulipathi and Ivathan tanks contributed significantly for drinking and agriculture needs. Now, they are filled with sewage water. Similarly, Thathaneri tank too is now a residential plot.