How a lake was restored at Mamallapuram ahead of Modi-Xi summit

The decision to hold the informal India-China summit at Mamallapuram has proved to be a boon for Konneri lake. The name interestingly, comes from Ko (reference to cow) and Neri (lake) because the shape of the once-upon-a-time water body resembles a sitting cow. 

The Konneri lake is one of the last freshwater bodies that are close to the monuments at Mamallapuram. This lake over the last two decades has seen excess growth of invasive weeds and has also become shallow. Located behind the lighthouse and the monument complex that houses the Krishna’s Butter ball, this lake is removed from all tourist activities. 

With the focus on the heritage site, Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) sought the permission of the district administration of Kanchipuram to work on the revival of the water body. By completing it before the summit, it wanted to showcase the strength of civic society-based water conservation efforts in the country. While it is empty now, a spell of rain will fill it with fresh water. 

As part of the restoration of the lake, construction debris, non-degradable trash and invasive weeds have been removed from the lake bed. The water body was deepened and percolation canals created within the lake leading to three recharge wells. The earthern embankments along the circumference have been strengthened. Nesting islands and a bamboo garden are other features at the lake that would stand out. 

After the Modi-Xi summit, boards carrying information on local biodiversity will come up on the southern embankment to increase public awareness.

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