Buckingham Canal begins to breathe, slowly

After Express highlighted the soil-filled canal’s plight, a clean-up drive has started

Published: 13th November 2020 05:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th November 2020 05:42 AM   |  A+A-

A view of the polluted water in Buckingham canal near Chennai

A view of the polluted water in Buckingham canal near Chennai | ASHWIN PRASATH

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Even as the city is receiving heavy showers, the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CWSSB) is racing against time to clean the choked Buckingham Canal, which plays a vital role in flood mitigation measures, in Ennore.  

The Regional Meteorological Centre has issued heavy rainfall warning for Chennai and authorities say that more rainfall is expected till November 17. Ennore on Thursday received close to 70 mm of rainfall. 
For the past two months, despite knowing  monsoon was fast approaching, Chennai Metro Water dumped hundreds of tonnes of dredged soil from Ennore Creek into the Buckingham Canal.

About 300m of the canal had become choked. However, after Express published an article highlighting the illegal dumping on November 6, clean-up was taken up. Additional machinery was deployed to fast track works. An executive engineer of Metro Water told Express that the channel has been cleared and water is flowing now. “For complete clean-up, it would take another 10-15 days depending on the weather conditions. We have deployed two boats to pump out silt from the canal and deepen it.

There is no immediate danger of flooding as Kosasthalaiyar river flows parallel to the Buckingham Canal,” he added. Executive Director of Metro Water T Prabhushankar has given instructions to remove the dumped debris and an inquiry was also launched to check whether any norms were violated.

A PWD assistant engineer however was not satisfied with the pace of clean-up. “We have asked Metro Water to deploy a bigger dredger, which can do the job in 5-6 days. At this pace, it would take several weeks and if there is a heavy downpour, several areas,” he said. The water flow in Kosasthalaiyar river and Buckingham Canal has increased due to recent rains, says RL Srinivasan, a fisherman from Ennore. “Because the waterbodies are encroached upon and filled with fly ash and dredged materials, areas in Ennore get inundated despite having such large natural water channels,” he adds 

The Metro Water is also carrying out the dredging activity to lay underwater pipeline to convey treated water from 45 MLD Tertiary Treatment and Reverse Osmosis (TTRO) plant at Kodungaiyur to the industries at Manali-Ennore corridor. As per the original plan, the pipeline was to be built across the Ennore creek with the help of stilts or pillars without affecting the hydraulic flow of water. But, the PWD did not grant permission for it, following which Metro Water decided to lay the pipeline. 

The Union Environment Ministry, while granting Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance, had detailed specific conditions such as the project should not affect marine/creek environment and there must be no blockages in the canal/creek during of laying of pipelines. This condition has been violated by the Metro Water.


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