Finally, the blueprint to give Cooum River a facelift is ready to be implemented. Chennai Corporation officials said the work on Integrated Cooum River Eco Restoration Plan will start immediately after the new Central government is formed.

This means in a month’s time, work on desilting the river, beautifying the river front, improving the sewage and storm water drain networks, rehabilitation of settlers and subsequent land acquisitions will commence. The project will be implemented over five years at a cost of Rs. 3,833.62 crore. In the first phase, the State government has allotted Rs. 500 crore for works to be taken up this fiscal. Discussions are on among various stakeholders to finalise the aspects to be initiated during the first phase.

Sources in the Water Resources Department said the plans for dredging the silt from the river, preventing dumping of solid waste and plugging sewage outfalls will be prioritised. Solid waste removal, construction of more sewage treatment plants and creation of parks with cycle tracks along the river from the mouth to Paruthipattu near Avadi are some of the proposals.

Meanwhile, residents want the government to ensure long-term benefits to people living along the banks of the Cooum. B. Damodharan, joint secretary, Mehta Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association, said the government must involve residents and representatives of welfare associations when deciding on the specifics. Currently, despite measures taken by the civic body, residentsendure mosquito menace in summer too.

Once encroachments are removed, there will be ample space along the banks that can be developed into parks.