After the latest spell of floods, focus shifts to waterway widening

Sticky situation: Residents said 13 rows of houses along the Cooum river banks in Arumbakkam were flooded on Sunday.  

Flooding in more than 700 locations of the city and protests by residents in waterlogged areas have shifted the civic body’s focus to waterways restoration projects.

The Cooum and Buckingham Canal are expected to be widened for carrying more floodwater from various parts of the city. A series of meetings with the Water Resources Department and the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT) was conducted by the Greater Chennai Corporation recently, focussing on flood mitigation initiatives along Cooum, Adyar, Kosasthalaiyar and Buckingham Canal.

The Corporation has proposed to create multiple outlets along the Buckingham Canal to drain excess floodwater from the city. Several drains have already been linked to the canal under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and World Bank funds in the past few years.

Similar to the Adyar Poonga, which has become a buffer during floods in the area, other proposals for restoration will be modified, officials said.

“Work on demarcation of boundaries of the Buckingham Canal has started. The work will be completed in a few months,” said an official of the Water Resources Department. The final decision on increasing the width of the canal will be taken only by the government.

Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi said under the river restoration efforts, the civic body, along with CRRT, is laying the boundary walls and fencing off Cooum and Adyar rivers.

“So far, there has been progress in more than 50% of the works in both rivers,” he said.

“The Corporation is tasked with preventing garbage from being dumped in the rivers. It is an ongoing process. That said, over the course of the project, in the Cooum, close to 90,000 tonnes of debris and over 15,000 tonnes of garbage have been removed by the Corporation. Likewise, in Adyar, so far, close to 50,000 tonnes of debris and a little over 6,000 tonnes of garbage were cleared,” Mr. Bedi added.

Alternative housing

Residents in flooded areas such as Radhakrishnan Nagar along the Cooum organised a protest last week, demanding alternative housing.

At least 8,000 families along the Cooum and Adyar are yet to be given alternative housing.

V. Jayaraman, a resident of Radhakrishnan Nagar, Arumbakkam, said his house had been flooded for the past few days, and the water level started rising on Sunday.

As the water is neck-deep in houses near the river, residents have vacated, leaving behind valuables.

“We have been given accommodation in a marriage hall. But the space is inadequate for 600 families. We request alternative housing in the city. We do not want houses on the outskirts,” he said. Residents said 13 rows of houses along the Cooum river banks in Arumbakkam were flooded on Sunday.

B. Saranya, a resident, said her neighbour gave birth to a baby girl on Saturday during the floods.

“The mother and newborn will have to be taken from the hospital to the flood relief centre again on Wednesday. We are not sure if the waters will recede by Wednesday,” she said. The Corporation has been providing food for the residents. But a few have demanded blankets. Of the 60 habitations along the Cooum, more than 10 habitations have been resisting resettlement to the suburbs, demanding better houses in the city, near their source of livelihood.

Officials of various line agencies have been talking to residents, explaining about the initiatives taken by the State government to control flooding and provide alternative housing in the city.

Egmore MLA I. Paranthaman said he had held meetings with officials to explore the possibility of providing alternative housing within city limits in his constituency for residents relocated from waterways and footpaths.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 12:28:36 AM |

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