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Crowd power to fund Perumbakkam lake clean-up


The Times of India, New Delhi, 13th March, 2015

 CHENNAI: The next time you pass Perumbakkam lake on the southern fringes of the city, instead of lamenting about its dying state, just log on to the internet and do your bit to change it. A group of volunteers is using the reach of the internet to seek contributions to clean up this freshwater lake.


Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), a Chennai-headquartered group that has been partnering with the residents and cleaning lakes in Chennai, Hyderabad and Coimbatore for eight years, has decided to reach out to the crowd for its latest project—restoring Perumbakkam lake, spread over 200 acres. Located on the Medavakkam-Mambakkam Road, the lake is home to almost 100 species of birds.


"To restore the lake, we needed to use heavy machinery and did not want financial hurdles to stop us. We got permission from the public works department and registered on crowdfunding portal Milaap to reach a large section of people," said Arun Krishnamurthy, founder of EFI. They are aiming to raise Rs 5 lakh over the next 80 days. In 24 hours, they have raised Rs 12,500.


Ganesh, who pitched in with Rs 2,000, said, "I feel bad that I am not able to help physically, but I hope my small monetary contribution helps achieve this ambitious goal of getting the lake cleaned."


The lake is surrounded by industrial and production units that regularly dump waste into the lake. In addition, raw sewage is let out by private sewage tanker lorries. This has reduced the wetland to one-twentieth of its original size.


Of the total budget of Rs 9 lakh, EFI hopes to raise Rs 5 lakh through crowd funding. EFI said 18 people would get employment through the project, including a geologist, hydrologist, microbiologist and manual labourer.


Perumbakkam is the 17th lake that EFI has set out to clean and restore. The lakes that the team has worked on in the past include Arasankazhani lake in Chennai and Selva Chintamani lake in Coimbatore. The group adopts a water body on a voluntary basis and cleans its periphery and restores it to its original form.