Another Cooum crackdown

It starts as a trickle in a remote corner in neighbouring Tiruvallur district and meanders through beautiful, serene villages and towns before draining into the Bay of Bengal as can be seen from Napier Bridge.

The Cooum river, many say, is the most abused waterway of Chennai, more than the Adyar or Buckingham Canal and subject to large-scale pollution and contamination from industries and even sewage from homes. In a development that comes as a ray of hope, the Southern Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to take action against industries, including the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) and SETC, which discharge raw and untreated trade effluent into the Cooum.

The Bench, comprising judicial member M. Chockalingam and expert member P.S. Rao, was hearing a petition filed by P. Edwin Wilson. He had sought the prevention of further pollution and encroachments along the three rivers and an end to sand mining in Kosasthalaiyar and Cooum tank in Tiruvallur district, among others.

According to a report filed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), the MTC and State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) were letting in untreated effluent into Cooum River. Show cause notices were issued to the two units by the board last year to install Effluent Treatment Plants. Subsequently, they replied stating that the plants would be installed and the treated effluent would be transmitted to Chennai Metrowater.

However, the two units continue to discharge the untreated effluent into the water way, claimed TNPCB. “It appears that though show cause notices have been issued by the board, no further action was taken in this regard. Hence, under the circumstances, it would require a direction to the board to take immediate follow-up action in order to prevent the untreated effluents being discharged by the units as required under the Water and Air Act,” reads the order.

The Bench also directed the Chief Secretary, who is also chairperson Chennai River Restoration Trust (CRRT) to convene a meeting with all departments concerned immediately. The member secretary of CRRT has been directed to appear with a detailed report before the Tribunal in the next hearing, says the order.

The case has been adjourned to July 28.

The Cooum fact-file

* Origin: Cooum Village, Tiruvallur District. The river originates from the surplus flow of water from Cooum Tank

* Drains into Bay of Bengal near Napier Bridge

* Total length: 72 kilometres

*The river is still a freshwater source in Tiruvallur district

*Contamination begins downstream from Paruthipattu Anicut near Avadi

*Several million litres of raw sewage, effluents continue to find their way into Cooum all along in Chennai city limits

* Several attempts to clean up the river were made in the past

Between 1905-2000: 11 suggestions to help tidal flushing and prevention of stagnation

2006: Chennai City River Conservation project and restoration project

2014-2015: Rs. 604.77 crore allotted for 60 short-term projects

Current restoration project will be implemented over: 5 years

Total cost: Rs.1,934 crore

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 7:05:43 AM |

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