Corporation removes water hyacinth, floating garbage from rivers and canals to combat mosquito menace; conservationists protest changes to ecology

Residents along the city’s waterways may soon enjoy some respite from the mosquito menace as the rivers are being cleaned up.

The Chennai Corporation recently began removing water hyacinth and floating garbage from the city’s waterways, including those maintained by the Public Works Department (PWD).

Besides the major waterways — Adyar river, Cooum river and the Buckingham canal — the civic body is also de-weeding other canals in the city.

According to PWD sources, it was decided to allow the civic body to remove the vegetation in the waterways during a recent meeting on combating the problem of mosquito breeding. As the PWD did not have sufficient funds, the civic body was requested to take up the cleaning operation.

The PWD removes sand bars from the river estuary regularly and desilts the major waterways before the onset of the northeast monsoon.

While this work has brought some relief to city residents, those living in the merged areas, including southern Chennai, want other water courses and lakes such as Okkiyam Maduvu and Velachery lake to be cleared of weeds and water hyacinth. The Okkiyam Maduvu canal has not been cleaned for over a year now, said residents of Thoraipakkam.

Kamala Raghavan of Mettukuppam said two water bodies in the area were closed to facilitate the laying of roads. Several localities still depended on wells for their water needs.

“Okkiyam Maduvu has water and helps to recharge groundwater in our locality. If the waterway is desilted and cleaned, it will help retain the water table,” she said.

Meanwhile, residents of Ururkuppam and some environmentalists complained that the work had further damaged the ecology of the estuary.

K. Saravanan of Ururkuppam said the vegetation on a riverine island, which is an important nesting habitat, was removed.

Representatives of Save Chennai Beaches Campaign and Madras Naturalists Society said the few islands on the river were home to mangroves in the estuary and must not be disturbed.

More In: Chennai | News