CHENNAI: The State government is hoping to speed up from August the execution of the ambitious Cooum River Eco-restoration Plan. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is likely to issue Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for 20 sub-projects that hit the road block after being identified as within the CRZ tidal zone.
The government on Tuesday submitted before the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that senior officials would attend the July 25 meeting of MoEF&CC to push for CRZ clearance.
K Phanindra Reddy, principal secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department, said in a detailed reply to the NGT, a copy of which is available with Express, that the progress of Integrated Cooum River Eco-restoration Plan had been reviewed by the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu government in the meeting held on July 16.
It was submitted that the restoration work was being carried out fast.
The Tamil Nadu government gave administrative sanction to the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT) for implementing 60 sub-projects under Phase 1 for three years (2015-2018) at an estimated cost of Rs 604.77 crore.
Reddy claimed that out of this, works worth Rs 135.38 crore had been started by the line departments. Tender process for projects worth Rs 156.83 crore had also been initiated.
Letters of Acceptance had been issued by the line departments for works worth Rs 71.32 crore.
“As restoration of the Cooum River has been at the top of the agenda of the Tamil Nadu government, a detailed eco-restoration plan has been prepared for implementation. The plan has a set of 69 activities to be done in full over three phases. Phase 1 (0 to 3 years) covers 60 activities, Phase II (4-8 years) of seven activities and Phase III comprises maintenance after the restoration process is completed. Thus, the restoration of the river is expected to be completed over a total period of eight years, out of which the major activities will be completed in three years,” the government said, as the fourth respondent in the case filed by petitioner P Edwin Wilson.
Meanwhile, the surveyors from CRRT along with the Public Works Department (PWD) and Greater Chennai Corporation began demarcating the boundary along the Cooum.
The fixing of boundary stones in the surveyed area is going on. Till now, 22.78 km have been demarcated out of total 43.48 km inside the city limit. Demarcation had been completed for the entire 16.144 km falling outside the city limit, a PWD official said.
Following the directive of the Chief Secretary, the Corporation of Chennai had been conducting enumeration and biometric survey in the slums. Within corporation limits, 55 slums had been identified and nearly 14,000 project-affected families were present within the right of way of the river.
The corporation and PWD had completed biometric survey of 3,052 project affected families. Initially, for 1,019 project affected families, temporary allotment had been issued by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB), the government informed the tribunal.
The NGT Bench posted the matter for further hearing on August 11.