Enumeration of encroachments along the Cooum river for the eco-restoration of the waterway is likely to be completed by June. Already over 7,400 encroachments have been identified as part of project. The enumeration beyond the city limits would be taken up by Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board, according to officials of Chennai River Restoration Trust (CRRT).
The drive would include identifying encroachments in seven municipalities and three town panchayats. After the enumeration, about Rs.400 crore would be required for the relocation of those who are evicted.
“The TNSCB has identified 5-6 locations in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts, including Perumbakkam. It would take at least two years for construction of the tenements. The Board has written to the Revenue Department asking it to transfer lands to for the purpose,” a senior official said.
The identification of the encroachments in the city is to be undertaken by the Chennai Corporation. In 2004-05, about 11,000 encroachments were identified. Of the river's total length of 65 km, nearly 30 km fall in city and peri-urban areas.
“Securing vacant spaces along the Cooum is being done now. This would help prevent misuse of the land and as a result the waterway. Two stretches of one km each at Langs Garden and Sivananda Salai have been handed over to the Corporation, which is developing them as parks,” he said.
The CRRT would also conduct workshops for local bodies to identify drawbacks in solid waste management and set right them. Measures are being taken up by the Chennai Metrowater to arrest release of raw sewage into the river.
Officials of CRRT said of the total 178 sewage outfalls identified, 60 are found to be immediately manageable and 40 are in encroached spaces. These would be plugged in two years.
Officials of Metrowater said besides providing sewerage network in 12 local bodies, including Avadi, Poonamallee and Nolambur, the Board was also improving its sewerage treatment capacity.
Additional sewage treatment plants of 60 million litres per day (mld) capacity and 54 mld are being constructed in Perungudi and Nesapakkam respectively.
Moreover, detailed project report for a 120 mld STP in Koyambedu has been prepared and awaiting fund, an official said.
At present, the Water Resources Department is dredging only part of the river mouth. With the entire portion of the river mouth being widened for incursion of sea water, the effect would be experienced till the stretch at Chetpet.
The Trust plans to network with research organisations and find a viable solution for the silt in the river. “The silt does not let the treated sewage to flow. Other possible uses of the silt such as converting it in to building materials and manure will be discussed,” said a CRRT official. The river would undergo an overall rejuvenation in a decade.