From The Hindu Archives Chennai

The call to clean up Cooum

(From the pages of The Hindu dated August 22, 1898)

The most crying scandal, the Cooum, is in a worse state at the present moment than ever it was in 1890, when the public indignation meeting was held. And the Government, dozing in the atmosphere of “the sweet half-English Nilgiri air” is, it would seem, supremely indifferent to it all. It thinks nothing of providing a lakh and a half of rupees for making the Hobart Park at Ootacamund into a nice playing-ground for its own officials and the Hill Captains. It had no difficulty in producing ten thousand rupees for a new ball-room for our old friend, the Leaky place.

It can find the means for numbers of other menus plaisirs in the way of “public” works, including large additions to the Government House, Guindy, which is seven miles from the savoury Cooum. But for the river itself it cannot, or will not, find an anna.

And not as though this filthy Cloaca maxima of Madras were a charge on Municipal funds, so that the excuse might be given that the Municipality must see to it.

The fact is (and the tact is too often ignored or not widely enough known) the conservancy and control of the Cooum pertain to Government, and are a legitimate charge on the Provincial P. W. D. Budget. Where the Municipality is responsible is with regard to what goes into the Cooum, and we are bound to admit that, the responsibility sits but lightly upon it. Another equally and similarly responsible body, the City Police, who apparently make no attempt whatever to prevent the committing of nuisances along any part of that long and twisting length of the river from Government House Bridge up to Chetput Bridge.

It is no exaggeration to say that practically the whole of this part of the river is used as an open latrine.

If the Commissioner of Police, who has done so much to regulate the traffic in the streets, would depute some Inspectors and a score of constables to regulate the use of the “river,” especially in the early morning, he would be doing far more to preserve the safety and promote the comfort of the public than he could ever do in the streets and roads.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 9:34:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/the-call-to-clean-up-cooum/article19577592.ece

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