CHENNAI: A part of the Cooum River near Maduravoyal has been engulfed by a thick bed of water hyacinth coupled with encroachment and garbage putting the surrounding areas at risk of inundation.
When TNIE visited this stretch of Cooum, located in the western parts of Chennai, on Tuesday, the green bed of water hyacinth had took over around 400 metre of the river. As monsoon has arrived, this might cause flooding as all the major stormwater drain outlets are linked to the river. It might also be noted that Maduravoyal, Mogappair, Ambattur, Nolambur, and Vanagaram were some of the areas of this stretch affected during the 2015 floods in Chennai.
Residents, living in the area, said the desilting and deepening works have not been carried out here for more than five years. “As there has been no restoration work apart from weed infestation, massive encroachment came up near this stretch,” said one Janakiraman R, who lives in an apartment complex located next to MGR university there.
TNIE also took a ride, along the stretch on the Union Road, only to find 40 to 50 informal settlements in the area. Some new constructions were also being undertaken on the river bund land while mountains of garbage were dumped throughout the stretch.
Professor S Janakarajan, an expert in water management and disaster risk reduction, said, “The Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust was supposed to undertake the restoration work but they haven’t done it. The Trust is becoming a burden on the exchequer as they have spent crores but have not done much to restore the river.”
Janakarajan further said, “All the urban city rivers are flood carriers. They are not providing drinking or irrigation water. We should be careful in maintaining the river.” Even though restoration work was taken up near Arumbakkam last month, the larger part of maintenance of the river is yet to be done.
“Restoration works were hit due to the pandemic but it has begun now. Sewage plugging and desilting works are underway, and it would take place here before the monsoon arrives,” official sources told TNIE. The Water Resources Department (WRD) takes up the desilting work. The Metro Water has also identified sewage plugging spots along the Cooum, officials added.
Like a green mat...
Water hyacinth, also known as Aagaya Thamarai in Tamil, is an invasive weed that often grows in contaminated sewage water. Sewage contamination is one of the primary reasons for this weed to be seen in many waterbodies of the State