A final technical feasibility report on the restoration of the Cooum river and its river-front development will be submitted to the government by October this year.
On the sidelines of a public consultation over the scheme on Thursday, Sandeep Jain, director of LKS India, the Spanish technical consultant for the project, told Express that the proposal was to make the Cooum basin people-friendly, besides beautifying and restoring it on a sustainable basis.
The estimated cost of the river front development project that would have cycle tracks and parks would be around Rs 3,000 crore to Rs 3,500 crore, Jain said. “This could also double over the years,” he added.
Unlike the Chennai City River Conservation Project that was undertaken in 1996 and the May 2006 Eco-Restoration of the river carried out by the previous regime, the current project would first try to identify the outfalls and plug them, said Jain.
According to the LKS director, the project’s main thrust would be on stopping the dumping of untreated sewage into the Cooum, after which work would start on improving the eco-system. The project would also focus on developing inland waterways. “Water transport is also part of the project. We do have all the technology for a clean-up and to develop the river as a waterway,” he added.
To a query on how the waterways would come up, when the elevated road linking the Chennai Port to Maduravoyal is coming up on the Cooum, Jain said they have an alternative plan if the elevated road gets a government clearance.
Taking public sentiments into consideration, he said, the project developers would try for insitu rehabilitation of slum-dwellers. “Even if there is a need to resettle them, we will ensure that their concerns are taken into account,” he said. “After all, we are developing the project for the people,” he added.
Plans are also in the pipeline to restore other water bodies in the city.
Sources said the Chetpet-Egmore riverfront and the Pallikarannai marsh have immediate potential for development as space for the public.