Friday, December 4, 2009

Will Cooum clean-up finally take off?

Will Cooum clean-up finally take off?

V Gangadharan

First Published : 04 Dec 2009 03:42:00 AM IST

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Government on Thursday announced a separate 'Chennai River Authority' (CRA) to clean up the Cooum and other waterways of the city such as the Adyar River with the sparkling Singapore River as their inspiration and model. The clean-up effort, however, has had a long history of failed attempts in Chennai.

As early as 1967, a clean Cooum project was launched by the then Chief Minister C N Annadurai at a cost of Rs 118 lakh. Post this; Chief Minister M Karunanidhi launched a boat service in 1973, which ended abruptly. The boat jetties serve as reminders of the unrealised dream of Arignar Anna and Karunanidhi to see 'Cooum beautified as the Thames of London.' With rapid urbanisation and accompanied pollution, Cooum and other rivers in the city became vulnerable to floods besides being reservoirs of filth. In 1976, there was a massive flood in the city, affecting the Adyar River and the Cooum.

A panel headed by engineer P Sivalingam gave its recommendations for prevention of damages from floods The Sivalingam panel was not the first to go into the question of why and how the waterways were hit. Following the devastating floods of 1943, the British government appointed an engineer A R Venkatachary, and on the basis of his report 'improved' the Cooum and installed a pump at the river mouth for removal of sand bars.

The Public Works Department Nucleus Cell Report of 1980, Madras Metro Flood Relief and Storm Water Drainage Master Plan Study made in 1993 and the Storm Water Drainage Master Plan for Madras City were some of the other studies done to clean up the waterways and prevent flooding in the Cooum, Buckingham Canal and Adyar River.

Interestingly, to this day since the Venkatachary report of 1943, formation of sand bars is cited as the major reason for the stagnation, silting and pollution in the Cooum. Though Public Works officials say that this problem has 'largely' been solved with the construction of walls close to the mouth, there has not been any overall improvement.

Public Works Minister Duraimurugan announced in July that the Cooum would be cleaned up with World Bank funding based on the San Antonio model in Texas, U S A.

Now however, the plan is to restore it based on the model of the revamped Singapore canal.

Courtesy_

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