CHENNAI: The Cooum River could soon shed its dirty identity and become a haven with parks and walkways to walk and unwind...that is, if the Centre steps in.
Eco-restoration work on the 9-km stretch from the mouth of the Cooum River near Napier Bridge to Chetpet is likely to start soon, with the Union Environment Ministry expected to grant Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance by the end of this month.
This could mean that the Cooum River front would undergo a rapid change in the next three years as the State government was planning to complete 60 sub-projects, including parks and walkways under the Integrated Cooum River Eco-Restoration Project.
Sources in Chennai River Restoration Trust told City Express that some projects like desilting, laying a baby canal and fixing up the boundary are already being done by the Public Works Department (PWD).
The Chennai Corporation has also started removing solid waste from the river, to build parks and walkways. Metro water has given tenders for setting up sewage treatment plants. The work is likely to start soon, said the source.
The primary objective of the project is to use alternative measures to prevent the flow of drainage water into the Cooum. Solid waste management, increasing floodwater capacity of the river, rehabilitating and resettling the people living along the Cooum, restoration of biodiversity and improving the environment, besides undertaking developmental works on the banks of Cooum River are some of the features of the project.
The first phase is being implemented at a cost of Rs 604.77 crore. But the hitch is getting the CRZ clearance from the environment ministry for the stretch from Chetpet to the Napier Bridge, since this area comes under the zone. Apart from this, work is progressing at a rapid pace in the Cooum River, officials said.
To a query on when the resettlement and rehabilitation of people living on the banks of Cooum would begin, the official said it was delayed due to the election. “We will be starting the work soon. The biometric data of the people living along banks of Cooum is in progress. Once done, the rehabilitation process will start,” he said.
It is learnt that there are over 14,200 families living along the banks between Parathipett Anaicut to Chetpet. As per a report under the plan, there will also be recreational space, children’s playgrounds and food courts.
CM J Jayalalithaa laid the foundation for first phase of the Integrated Cooum River Eco-Restoration Project to be implemented at a cost of Rs 604.77 crore on Sept 15, 2014
Under this project (to be implemented through the Chennai River Restoration Trust), areas from Paruthipattu dam near Avadi upto Coovum estuary (27.3 km) would be restored
The cost of this project, to be executed in three phases, is Rs 1,934.84 crore
60 short-term projects is to be executed in the next three years
In the second phase, seven short-term projects will be implemented
In the third stage, maitenance work would be undertaken
PWD is building a baby canal where water treated by sewage treatment plant would flow
24 parks would be designed along the banks of Cooum
Plans are on to have 19 km of bicycle tracks along the river
Plans to have Mangrove Development Plan for the mouth of the Cooum River and surrounding the Island Grounds as it acts as flood buffers and bio-barriers against storms and high tides