Author: Shanmughasundaram J, TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 4, 2017
Drawing inspiration from the jallikattu protest, a group of youngsters and students in Vellore and surrounding areas have decided to revive the century-old Otteri lake which is one of the main water sources for the city.
They have decided to weed out karuvelam maram, a native species of West Africa, and other invasive species in and around the water body to revive it.
"During the protest, we discussed various issues and wanted to do something for the betterment of society. Since Vellore has been facing water crisis, we have decided to concentrate on water bodies," said 26 year-old E Sathish, who runs a software company in Bengaluru.
In the last four years, the government did not desilt any waterbodies in the state. So, the youngsters decided to take up the task to revive lakes and ponds in and around the city and also plant more trees, he added.
They formed a group called 'Change Vellore' with a theme 'My Dream, My Vellore' and invited youngsters and students to volunteer. Though the lake received surplus water, after 19 years, following heavy rain in December 2015, it dried up fast due to poor management of the water body.
"We posted messages on various social media platforms to join us on February 4 and 5 to clean Otteri lake. We are happy that we received good response. So far, more than 300 people from Vellore, who work in IT sector and other companies in Chennai and Bengaluru, social and environmental activists and students have expressed their willingness to join us," said 28-year-old D Manikandan, one of the coordinator of Change Vellore forum.
They have also approached education institutions and invited students to be part of Change Vellore's maiden effort. "We have also ordered for 2000 saplings of native species such as palm, neem, pungam and puvarasam trees that suits our environment. We will plant the saplings along the lake after removing the Karuvelam maram," said Sathis, chief coordinator of the forum.
He further said that they have obtained permission to use earth movers to uproot the invasive trees. "We have approached the owners of earthmovers and they are also interested in the cause. Karuvelam maram roots penetrate to over 100 feet depth and suck the ground water," he said.
They have also planned to take up a massive tree plantation programme to increase the green cover of the city.