Request prompted by dumping of waste in Buckingham Canal near Central station

In a bid to ensure a cleaner look for Buckingham Canal and maintain free flow during the monsoon, the Water Resources Department has written to Southern Railway to take steps and arrest dumping of garbage in the waterway.

Large scale dumping of refuse into the canal near Chennai Central railway station has prompted the department to request the Railway for support.

According to WRD officials, crucial stretches covering 10 km of north Buckingham Canal are being cleaned for a month under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. Challenges are being faced in desilting the points near Central station and beneath the Pallavan Salai bridge. Stretches near the point where the canal, the Kodungaiyur drain and Captain Cotton Canal confluence were also difficult to clean, officials said.

“We have removed carton boxes and plastic water bottles strewn along the railway tracks. It is extremely difficult to clean these places as there is no approach,” an official said.

The department recently started work to desilt and deweed the waterways and surplus courses of the tanks in and around the city at a cost of Rs. 3.62 crore. The project to clean the various waterways running over 70 km has been split into 58 packages.

About 20,000 cubic metres of silt and garbage have been removed from the north Buckhingam Canal so far and conveyed to the Kodungaiyur dumping yard.

Construction of a retaining wall along stretches of the canal, including those in Bharathi Nagar and Korukkupet, has helped in reducing dumping of waste to an extent, officials said.

“We have also sought the support of ward councillors to create awareness among people against misusing waterways,” said an official.

Heavily encroached stretches of central Buckingham Canal are also being cleaned in seven places, including Mylapore. “The equipment is conveyed on floats in the waterway for a distance of 500 metre as there is no entry along the heavily encroached stretch that runs along Mattangkuppam,” said the official.

Besides Cooum river and surplus channels of several tanks, Virugambakkam Arumbakkam drain and Otteri Nullah are also being desilted.

Cleaning of Virugambakkam Arumbakkam drain, particularly at points beneath road bridges, has posed a challenge. “We removed old sofa sets, animal carcasses and loads of floating garbage that were blocking the vents of the road bridges,” said an official.

The 6.3 km-long waterway passes beneath nearly 30 road bridges before joining Cooum river. So far, nearly 1,800 loads of waste have been removed.

This year, float-mounted equipment is being used in place of an earth mover to desilt Velachery tank to ensure effective cleaning.

A few waterways in Tiruvallur district including the Periathai channel feeding Kakkalur tank, Tiruvallur, are also being cleaned up.

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