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Cooum riverbed stinks with construction debris

Aloysius Xavier Lopez
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Chennai River Restoration Trust has collected water samples from the river and handed it over for analyses

Scene of squalor: Construction debris being dumped along the Cooum river in Chintadripet for creation of approach roads. — Photo: K.Pichumani
Scene of squalor: Construction debris being dumped along the Cooum river in Chintadripet for creation of approach roads. — Photo: K.Pichumani

Dumping of construction debris and municipal solid waste on the river-bed of the Cooum is on the rise. As part of studying the impact of dumping of solid waste and construction debris, the Chennai River Restoration Trust (CRRT) has collected water samples from the river and handed over to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for analyses.

The CRRT would make efforts to control the reckless dumping of solid waste and construction debris citing reasons pertaining to construction of elevated link road from Chennai Port to Maduravoyal.

A few months ago, the CRRT had asked the Chennai Corporation to chalk out an action plan to remove construction debris dumped on the banks of the Cooum River. This was in response to the steady decrease in the width of the river in the city limits on account of the dumping of the debris.

Experts at the CRRT had also asked the civic body to keep vigil and take measures to prevent the dumping of construction debris by private entities.

However, after the Public Works Department permitted the creation of temporary roads in the ‘flood plain' of the river to facilitate infrastructure projects, the construction debris are being dumped in the ‘river bed' itself in many areas. This has reduced the width of the river bed in such areas.

According to PWD sources, the debris on the flood plain of the river would be removed after the piling work is completed by National Highways Authority of India.

As PWD officials have not mentioned the optimum width of the approach roads, dumping of construction debris has led to reduction in river bed of the Cooum. This would obstruct the normal flow of the river during the northeast monsoon, said an official of the CMDA.

The official said that dumping of debris in waterbodies was prohibited. Reckless dumping may also endanger the lives of people living in low-level areas during heavy rains, the official added.

The Chennai Corporation and the PWD have the responsibility of regulating this dumping. Solid waste generated in newly added areas of the Chennai Corporation is also being dumped in the river bed in the stretch between Vanagaram and Koyambedu.

The Chennai Corporation is yet to have a proper solution to the garbage disposal problem in the newly added areas.

The impact of the dumping of municipal solid waste on the quality of river water would be studied after the TNSCB gives the results of the test on water samples to the CRRT.

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