In 2022, the Pitchandikulam forest consultants undertook a significant restoration project at Naganthagal Eri, situated in Upparapalayam village, Pothur Panchayat. This lake had played a crucial role in the past by serving as a vital groundwater reservoir and providing safe drinking water to the community. Unfortunately, due to neglect, it had become filled with silt and overrun with weeds, losing its ability to hold water. The lake’s location on the outskirts of Chennai, just above the Puzhal Lake, made it an essential water body for water conveyance and urban flood prevention during the monsoon seasons.
The restoration project, carried out in partnership with Pothur Panchayat and funded by Tata Communications limited, was aptly named “Nanneer,” which translates to “good/safe water.” Before commencing the restoration work, the Pitchandikulam team conducted a thorough biodiversity survey to identify the fauna and flora in the area. This step was crucial to reintroduce the native species that once thrived there. Subsequently, a well-planned land shaping strategy was designed for the 15.01-acre lake, incorporating features such as platforms, an island, and two small hills with walking tracks.
The land shaping phase involved careful excavation and desilting of the lake. The excavated silt and soil were then utilized to create hills, islands, and bunds, contributing to the revitalization of the lake’s ecosystem. Over five thousand plants of native species were thoughtfully planted on the bunds, platforms, island, and hills within the desilted lake area. An encouraging aspect was the involvement of TCL employees, who volunteered in the plantation work, this helped promoting awareness about water conservation and the significance of planting indigenous flora to IT urban people.
To ensure the protection of the newly planted vegetation from cattle and other threats, the site was securely fenced. Additionally, essential infrastructure, including water facilities, toilets, huts, and seating benches, were constructed to facilitate visitors’ access and comfort.
As part of the project’s broader vision, a dedicated “Blue Green Center” (BGC) was established at the site. The BGC serves as a hub for environmental education programs, catering to school students, local youth, and anyone interested in environmental conservation. Building upon TCL’s existing support for environmental education in Chennai schools through the “School in Action” initiative, where students learned about indigenous flora and fauna at Adyar Poonga (Tholkappiar Poonga) restored by Pitchandikulam Forest in 2007, this program extended to the Nanneer site. Local students in the vicinity are invited to the BGC for enlightening environmental education experiences.
The culmination of the project saw the inauguration of the BGC by the Tiruvallur collector, with the project officially handed over to the district government, as the lake fell under their jurisdiction. The
project’s success was acknowledged through a prestigious TCL award and favorable outcomes in the biodiversity survey and Environmental Impact Assessment, reaffirming the positive impact of the restoration efforts.