Chennai

A tireless campaign for a waterway in Chennai

In October last year, the Greater Chennai Corporation stepped in to clear the Sholinganallur section of Buckingham Canal of water hyacinth. Though the waterway comes under the maintenance of the Water Resources Department (WRD) of the Public Works Department (PWD), the Corporation took up the job just ahead of the monsoon to prevent flooding, but not without some pressure from activist groups.

C.R. Balaji, a noted civic activist, had been campaigning to get the invasive weed removed from the canal. His campaign for the canal started in 2016 after he joined a team of activists from Arappor Iyakkam on an audit of Okkiyam Maduvu, which connects Pallikaranai Marsh to the Buckingham Canal.

The audit found that indiscriminate dumping of garbage and discharge of sewage, and encroachments were killing the waterway. Besides the NGO’s efforts, Balaji continued to pursue the issue.

“I was sending petitions to the PWD, Corporation, and even the Chief Minister’s Cell for more than a year. Finally, my complaint to the CM’s Cell was what worked and Buckingham Canal and Okkiyam Maduvu were rid of water hyacinth in 2017,” he recalls.

However, the weed started spreading and Balaji too persisted with his complaints.

“I took it up with the PWD and also wrote to the Corporation as it owns the amphibian vehicles that can clear the hyacinth easily. Just before the north-east monsoon, the PWD held a co-ordination meeting and discussed the issue, following which the Corporation deployed its amphibian vehicles in October of 2018 to remove the hyacinth,” he adds.

Though he lives in Mandaveli, he continues to take an active interest in the waterway and monitors sections of it.

“Of course, I can’t go and see various sections of the canal every day, but I stay connected with residents in that area and local activists who keep me updated. I go inspect the waterway, either as part of a group or alone whenever time permits. I also visit other waterways such as Adyar and Cooum rivers and if there’s an issue, I alert the authorities through complaints,” he says.


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Printable version | May 26, 2022 5:11:41 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/a-tireless-campaign-for-buckingham-canal/article27400136.ece