CHENNAI: The National Waterway-4, running along the Coromandel Coast from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Marakkanam near Puducherry, has become a failure with the Central government not announcing any composite project and not allocating funds even after eight years of its launch. Along with this, maintenance of Buckingham Canal too seems to be doomed looking at its pathetic condition. Besides beign a natural drainage system, it had saved Chennai city to large extent during the cataclysmic December floods.
NW-4 covers a total length of 1,078 km, including north and south Buckingham canal that passes through Chennai city. In 2014, Inland Waterways Authority of India, the implementing authority of NW-4, has opened its regional office in the campus of Indian Maritime University for the sole purpose of improving the condition of Buckingham Canal, especially the southern section. However, the department did nothing till date even as several trucks collecting untreated sewage from big apartment complexes on OMR and ECR located after Perungudi and Sholliganalur, where metro water doesn’t have drainage network, are dumping sewage illegally into the canal right under the nose of the officials.
D Sai Amutha Devi, secretary, Inland Waterways Authority of India, in an affidavit submitted before the southern bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT), a copy of which is available with the Express, said the stretch of south Buckingham Canal from Ennore sea mouth to Sholliganalur road bridge was excluded from NW-4 in 2014, and hence, no developmental activity could be taken-up. However, a project costing `123.40 crore was sanctioned for the development of the stretch between Shollinganalur and Kalpakkam, but execution of the project is yet to commence.
She also said that the Centre had initially planned to develop the commercially viable stretches through PPP mode. On further study, which revealed that development of NW4 through PPP was not feasible, a decision was taken for developing the waterways through budgetary support.