August 30, 2015
Wasted public money, non-working boating house and an apathetic public waiting for action – this is the tragic story of the famous Singanallur tank which was reclaimed and renovated at great cost to be used as a place for boating. Today it looks like a sewage pit for the city’s waste.
Singanallur tank is one of the biggest tanks in Coimbatore district. Spread over 850 acres, the tank receives water from the Western Ghats. When the tank fills up in monsoon season, the water overflows into the Noyyal river and Sulur tanks.
Fourteen years earlier it was proposed to establish a boat house on the banks of Sinaganllur tank and convert the area into an entertainment and tourist spot. Accordingly a boat and a children’s park was established in the year 2001. Pedal boats and motorboats were also procured. In course of time, due to increase in the inflow of sewage water, uncontrolled growth of water hyacinth, and decreasing patronage, the boathouse was closed.
Subsequently, to encourage boat rides and boating competitions, the Corporation allocated Rs.50 lakhs. It was proposed that apart from the days when competition and training sessions were conducted, and on general holidays, the public would be allowed to access the tank for joyrides.
As a first step the Corporation spent Rs.22 Lakhs in renovating the park and installing new play equipment. A private firm was also contracted to operate the boats for a single day on rental basis. After the work was completed, the boathouse was kept locked for several months. Due to popular demand, the boathouse was thrown open for public use on March 9, in the presence of Minister Tvl Velumani, Coimbatore Mayor Raj Kumar, and District Collector Archana Patnaik.
The response was encouraging. It was announced that free training sessions will be conducted everyday between 9 and 11 AM and from 4.00 to 5.30 PM for about 50 persons. It was also announced on behalf of the Corporation that new boats would be procured for this purpose. But, since the announcements were not followed up, the boats were beached after just 10 days of training. Further, the hot summer season saw fresh water from the tank evaporate only to be replaced by untreated sewage water. Soon, water hyacinth took over.
In order to prevent the disaster from recurring, the tank has to be consistently used and the inflow of sewage has to be stopped. But, the Corporation has failed to take the initiative seriously. The place has become a hangout for antisocial elements and rag-pickers. Jeevanandham, a garbage collector from Nanjundapuram, said that they come every morning and collect the discarded bottles and plastic cans and sell them for recycling.
Will the officials and residents of the area get serious about preserving what has been given to us by our forefathers?