‘Restoration of waterbodies must be done in an inclusive way’

Plans for rejuvenation must incorporate settlements around such areas, says Karen Coelho

Restoration of urban waterbodies must be re-imagined in an inclusive way. Proposals must be chalked out with solutions to handle informal settlements around them. This was one of the aspects discussed at a talk on “Urban waterlines: Water Infrastructures and the Politics of Indifference in Chennai”, organised at the Madras Institute of Developmental Studies (MIDS), on Thursday.

Citing various case studies, such as those on the Korattur and Ambattur lakes, Karen Coelho, associate professor, MIDS, said restoration of waterbodies that are no longer are used for irrigation purpose around the city has become a trend. City residents are often engaged in restoration initiatives.

However, the voice of those living on the waterbodies go unheard in such projects and conversations need to be initiated to address inclusiveness. It is time that changing nature of the waterbodies be taken into account during rejuvenation of water bodies and re-engineer them to suit the present use, Ms. Coelho said.

In her presentation, she discussed three aspects of urban waterlines — water boundaries, flows and infrastructure. Many of the water interventions do not connect with the social milieu during urbanisation. She discussed the dynamics of water and urbanisation and socio, technical and political interventions with water.

Ms. Coelho spoke on how residents in resettlement colonies of Semmencheri and Perumbakkam were caught in vortex of flooding as the tenements were built blocking natural drains to the Buckingham canal. Several private establishments were also constructed on such drains. The issues pertaining to water supply infrastructure, including access to equitable water supply particularly by those in slums, were discussed.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 6:14:22 AM |

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