Encroachments delay Cooum restoration

Removal of about 100 encroachments along the Cooum in Arumbakkam has been hanging fire since 2015

August 11, 2022 12:07 am | Updated 12:07 am IST - CHENNAI

The Water Resources Department is struggling to execute the integrated eco-restoration project in a portion of the Cooum in the city. Clearing commercial encroachments, particularly near Arumbakkam, is cited as a major challenge in completing the work.

According to Water Resources Department officials, nearly 80% of the project has been completed so far in the 17-km urban stretch from Maduravoyal under the aegis of Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust. However, removal of about 100 commercial structures that have encroached upon the river at Arumbakkam has been pending since 2015.

Though there are obstructions in a few other stretches too, including Greams Road and Padikuppam, about 850 metre portion of the river near Arumbakkam is waiting to be improved for many years.

The department had earlier this year cleared nearly 486 encroached structures in Arumbakkam and relocated residents. At present, the river can be widened up to 80 m on the stretch. Only if the commercial encroachments were cleared, the river’s original width of nearly 110 metres can be restored, officials said.

Court litigations and stiff opposition continue to be obstacles for clearing encroachments and causing delay in implementing the restoration plan. The WRD is waiting to retrieve an encroached portion running for a length of minimum 300 m at Arumbakkam. Every year, places like NSK Nagar get flooded due to spillover from the river.

Work such as demarcation of boundary, river widening, strengthening of bund and construction of compound wall were delayed. The carrying capacity of the river would be doubled to nearly 7,000 cubic feet per second after the exercise, the officials added.

This work would also help resume Chennai Port-Maduravoyal elevated corridor project along the river. The department has identified nearly 13,952 encroachments along various stretches of the river.

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