River clean-up projects yet to take off: Activists

Crores being wasted, but dumping of garbage continuing unabated due to public apathy and lack of coordination among departments, say greens
Biomedical waste found on the banks of Adyar River near Tiruneermalai | Express
Biomedical waste found on the banks of Adyar River near Tiruneermalai | Express

CHENNAI: Though the State government has allocated nearly Rs 5,000 crore for restoration of Cooum, Adyar rivers and Buckingham Canal, garbage and other pollutants continue to flow in them.
Activists claim no real work has been started by any government agency towards cleaning the rivers. Projects charted out by them five to six years ago still remain in the back burner. “The main problem is lack of coordination between PWD, Greater Chennai Corporation, Metro Water and river restoration trust. Sewage outfalls are not fully plugged yet, storm water drains are filled with sewage and desilting near bunds happens only just before monsoon,” said Balaji CR, a civic activist.

Some instances that reflect reality are near Tiruneermalai- Anakaputhur where medical waste is being dumped on the banks of Adyar River. Inside city limits near Chepauk, Buckingham Canal looks like a mini dumpyard. 
In the first case, on the outskirts of Tiruneermalai along NH 45, green sacks filled with biomedical waste such as used syringes, masks, expired medicine strips and other plastic items were found dumped on Adyar river banks. 

Pughal V, a local activist and a resident of Kundrathur, who spotted this a few days ago said  private sewage tankers also add to the pollution by dumping untreated sewage into Adyar river at this spot. “When I rummaged through this medicine waste, it was clear that it was from nearby clinics as most were used physician’s samples. While people have turned this spot into a make shift dumpyard over the years, this is the first time I am seeing harmful biomedical waste,” he said. 

An official from Tiruneermalai Town Panchayat said “This maybe a one off case as we have never received complaints of this kind from the public. When we found medical waste in the Tiruneermalai cemetery three months ago, we cleaned the area and locked the gates. Similar action will be taken.”  
Ten days ago, the State government allocated Rs 2,371 crore to restore the three rivers. In 2014, a whopping `3,834 crore was set aside for the sole restoration of Cooum river. 
Though the project’s deadline was five years, one can ascertain the progress made by just looking at the river’s sorry state.

Public apathy is also one of the major reasons behind the rivers being sewage and solid waste carriers. Locals living near Buckingham Canal, Chepauk, alleged that settlements along the banks near Triplicane MRTS station disposed garbage, which mainly consisted of plastic waste,  into the river. After recent rain, garbage had been pushed near Chepauk, but was unable to flow any further. Officials removed garbage last month, but are yet to clean this month,” said a auto driver.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express