A team of officials from the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) on Thursday made a presentation on four pilot projects identified to restore the Cooum River.

The team comprising officials from SCE, Public Utilities Board of Singapore, and CH2M HILL, a Singapore-based company, presented their proposals to the government, at a meeting chaired by the Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin here.

Speaking to The Hindu about the projects, Vinod Singh, Director of CH2M HILL, said continuous and strategic dredging of the river, which would allow tidal movement and help in diluting pollutants, was one of the projects identified.

The fountain system at the Napier Bridge, which would also help in water circulation, would be revived.

A stretch of the river beyond the tidal reach would be taken up for testing the potential bio-engineering solutions that could be applied to the entire river based on the success.

Another significant project is setting up of ‘visitor's centre,' to educate people on the importance of river restoration, he said.

The team is in discussion with the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT) about the projects that have to be prioritised, the time frame, cost factor and the benefits, he added.

Rajiv Dixit, General Manager, Industry Development Department, Public Utilities Board, said these pilot projects would be implemented simultaneously along with the preparation of the master plan in the next 12 to 18 months.

The master plan would be a holistic integrated approach, to create sustainable solutions in cleaning up the river. A multi-disciplinary approach is needed for improving the water quality. “It took us a decade to improve the water quality in the Singapore river, which is now used for drinking.”

Pointing out that the Cooum river is longer than the Singapore river and Chennai receives only seasonal rainfall, he said the cost factor also had a major role in improving the standard of the water.

Alphonsus Chia, Chief Executive Officer of SCE, said that the aspect of climate change would also be looked into. One of the key issues that have to be addressed is the community involvement in improving and managing the Cooum river.

The project would also present an opportunity for Singapore and Chennai to work together and encourage cooperation in other areas, he said.

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Deepa H. RamakrishnanJune 28, 2012

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