A clarion call to clean up the Cooum

August 23, 2015 08:30 am | Updated March 29, 2016 05:00 pm IST - CHENNAI:

Map of a portion of the Cooum.

Map of a portion of the Cooum.

‘Is it possible for the Cooum to be cleaned up?’ This was the question that was asked by several readers during the live chat hosted by  The Hindu  on the sidelines of Madras Day. 

The answer, provided by experts, was in the affirmative, but came with a conditional clause: if encroachments were removed and further pollution of the waterway is stopped forthwith. 

Susan Mathew, IAS, former Vice-Chairperson of Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, and M. Karmegam, former Director, Centre for Water Resources, Anna University, and reporters of  The Hindu  participated in the chat held on the occasion of Madras Day on Saturday.  

“The Cooum is clean at its origin, but the city pollutes it,” said Ms. Mathew. 

Citing examples of how the San Antonio in the US and the Thames in London were restored, Ms. Mathew said the Chennai River Restoration Trust, along with the Corporation, Metro Water Board, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Public Works Department and Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board were involved in the mammoth task.

When Kokila, a reader recalled: “The Cooum river was shown well in the movie  Madrasapattinam . Boat rides on the clean water,” Mr. Karmegam responded: “There was an attempt to introduce boating but unfortunately, the project was not completed.” 

In 1967, the Annadurai government attempted to restore the river. They even constructed boat jetties, which can be seen in Pantheon road even today.

 “The Chennai Corporation earmarked Rs. 100 crore for developing infrastructure for preventing solid waste pollution of the river. Has anything materialised or is it still on paper?” A reader asked. 

The State Government has given administrative sanction for projects to prevent accumulation of solid waste along the Cooum. The Chennai Corporation floated bids for the projects recently. Bids for development of nine parks and walkways have also been floated. But settlements in 35 neighbourhoods have to be removed for the project to take off.

When a reader noted that the river was “naturally cleaned” during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Mr. Karmegam observed, “There is a tidal rise of nearly 1 m. This can be advantageously (used) to improve the river from the estuary to Nungambakkam Railway Bridge. There was an attempt in the late sixties, which can be taken up again.”

Ms. Mathew suggested the mouth of the river can be regularly dredged for a clean Cooum. 

People should stop encroaching and dumping garbage, while the government should continue its drive against encroachments and concretely pursue solid waste management to ensure the lifeline of Chennai is restored. 

Read the transcript of the chat:  >http://thne.ws/1LoySlg

Madras Week: Thus Spake Cooum

>My waters nurtured centres of learning

The Directorate of Public Instruction on my bank laid the foundation for most of the schools and colleges in the city.

>The river never found its place in Tamil cinema

The Cooum has always been portrayed as filthy and as a garbage dump yard.

>Stirring expressions of patriotism

Cooum has witnessed some defining moments of the Indian freedom struggle.

>Tracing the sacred roots of a river

The 18 century philanthropist Pachaiyappa Mudaliyar would bathe in my waters and then proceed to worship Lord Komaleeswarar.

>Artists' walk documents the many facets of Cooum

A group of artists had captured these facets of the Cooum river as they set out on a journey along the waterway.

>Institutions pitch innovative solutions for cleaning Cooum

A city grew on the banks of the Cooum, but did you know that they have been sites of the clash of civilisations?

>Celebrating Madras Week

Over years, Chennai’s own river, the banks on which Madras arose, 376 years ago next week, has meandered on, stoic in the face of the assaults on it.

>Madras thrived on her banks

A group of history enthusiasts has brought a fresh perspective to the image of the river.

>The scene of great battles

A city grew on the banks of the Cooum, but did you know that they have been sites of the clash of civilisations?

>For them, Cooum is not synonymous with sewer

The Cooum, as strange as it might sound to some, still remains a lifeline to many villages in Tiruvallur district.

>Cooum snippets

In the first-person account that follows, one R. Premsingh writes, “I wish to draw the attention of the Corporation authorities to the stinking smell emitted by the Cooum river.”

>Cooum: Madras' engine of growth

Nearly everything that was and is notable in the city took root along my banks, from the houses of the powerful to the centres of commerce

>Staving off the sewage threat in Cooum

Chennai Metrowater seems to be trying to actualise the big dream of cleaning Cooum river through small steps.

>What's in a name?

A group of history enthusiasts has brought a fresh perspective to the image of the river.

>When crocodiles swam free in Cooum

If you walked by the Cooum about a 100 years ago, you may just have spotted the Cooum crocodile

>Cooum: High tide of artistic expression

From cinemas and bookstores to theatre performances and architectural marvels, I have witnessed this great city reaching new creative heights over many decades.

>Chennai Corporation to play a key role in Cooum makeover

Following a resolution by the Chennai Corporation Council this summer, the civic body is set to do a study on the restoration of heritage landscape along the Cooum river.

>On Islands Grounds and the Cooum

Do you know that Island Grounds owes its name to the Cooum?

>My waters nurtured centres of learning

The Directorate of Public Instruction on my bank laid the foundation for most of the schools and colleges in the city

>The river never found its place in Tamil cinema

The Cooum has always been portrayed as filthy and as a garbage dump yard.

>Crucial decision made: Between Andhra and Tamil Nadu

So valued was the free-flowing Cooum in those days that there was a demand to carve out an Andhra State from the Madras Presidency in the mid and late 1950s.

>

Read more stories

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.