Work is in full swing to clean waterways in and around Chennai, ahead of the northeast monsoon. The Water Resources Department (WRD) has completed nearly 30% of the work to ensure that the waterways carry floodwater without hassle during rainy season.
The officials said the department aimed to complete the work by mid-September.
The annual exercise to clean the waterways and some of the waterbodies, including those in Porur and Red Hills, in Chennai and peripheral areas and Cuddalore district was started this month at a cost of ₹20 crore. In Chennai and neighbouring districts, 77 works are being carried out simultaneously in channels running to a distance of 184.45 km.
The WRD officials said the work was being executed to clear aquatic weeds in portions of the Cooum, especially near causeways, and the Adyar from downstream of Sriperumbudur road bridge.
The WRD has allocated funds to remove accumulated sand in the Adyar river mouth and Muttukadu and Pudhupattinam sea mouths till the year-end and close the eroded banks of Kandaleru-Poondi canal through which the Krishna water flowed into the Poondi reservoir.
Officials said the work was started ahead this year, involving nearly 137 machines for better flow on the waterways, given the vagaries of the monsoon. In the narrow portions of Virugambakkam-Arumbakkam canal, cranes were used to shift the machinery from place to another as there were no tracks to get into the waterway.
A team of engineers has been deployed to monitor the work. The vegetation and waste removed are sent to Kodungaiyur dump yard.
In Virugambakkam and Arumbakkam canal, Buckingham canal and Otteri Nullah alone, 72 truckloads of vegetation were cleared in the past one week with the assistance of the Greater Chennai Corporation, the officials added.
Residents want the cleaning operation to be carried out more frequently.
A. Subramanian, treasurer, Virugambakkam Residents’ Welfare Association, said the authorities must clear the trash from the Virugambakkam-Arumbakkam canal at least once in six months. Stern action must be taken to prevent dumping of plastic waste that clogged the waterway.
While most of the removed vegetation and floating material would be conveyed to dump yards, ecologists suggest that the vegetation cleared could be converted into manure.