Ousteri lake is the largest water body in the Puducherry region. Every year, the lake provides irrigation and tourism benefits worth Rs 11.5 million and Rs 5.72 million respectively and plays a crucial role in recharging groundwater aquifers. The lake is also a resting ground for many migratory birds and provides livelihood to thousands of people. It has been recognised as one of the important wetlands of Asia by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). It is the largest freshwater lake in the Puducherry region. The lake, which is 390 hectares in area, supports a variety of fauna and flora.
But, in the last one decade, 2800 acres of land around the lake has been converted into commercial non-agricultural purposes. The lake has suffered pressure from land-use changes in the catchment area, encroachment, siltation, pollution from the industry and agriculture. If this trend continues, there are chances of losing Rs 19.67 million annually for the ecosystem services provided by the lake.
Human intervention has proven to create a multifold consequence on the lake and its extended surroundings. There is a dire need for a practical vision to reduce the repercussions of human activities that have extensively damaged Ousteri lake’s health.
By regulating access to ecosystem benefits such as fishing, the collection of medicinal plants, solid waste dumping and groundwater exploitation by commercial establishments, this watery treasure trove could be restored from its current depleted state of health.
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