Sewage-free rivers key

The revival of ferry services is one of the most sought-after desires of the city’s residents, inspired by black and white or sepia images of boats coasting along the Cooum decades ago. However, it is important to be practical, given the condition of the city’s rivers, experts warn.

The proposal to introduce ferry services is feasible only if pollution is arrested, say officials of the Water Resources Department (WRD).

While the city stretch of Cooum River sports a cleaner look after widening and desilting by the WRD, there is much to do in terms of mitigating further pollution being added to the river. The WRD has cleared nearly 70% of the encroachments in the urban portion of Cooum River as party of eco restoration project. Of the nearly 16 km, a stretch of almost 8-10 km of the river has been desilted and widened so far.

Noting that there was inadequate water depth for promoting navigation activities in both waterways, officials said more check dams must be constructed in the tail-end of Adyarriver to sustain better flow of water. Arresting sewage flow was a major challenge in both the rivers. The project to construct modular sewage treatment plants along the Cooum is still under way and remains the biggest hurdle to seeing a cleaner river.

Sources in the WRD said river development must take place according to 1904 revenue records. The Cooum river is only 40 m wide in some localities, such as Aminjikarai. Similarly, the width of Adyar river varies between 640 m and 40 m.

A.C. Kamaraj, expert member for interlinking of rivers, Government of India, and chairman, National Waterways Development Technology, however, is excited about this idea to link waterways to use the stretch as a transportation route. As a transportation system, the water transport would work outand said water transport would be cheaper and would be relatively environment friendly.

However, fresh water resource is required for periodical flushing of the rivers that have been polluted with release of raw sewage. Water transport would be feasible if pollution is reduced.

The city waterways do not have such a source for clean water flow. Arresting sewage remains the big challenge, given the way the city has grown in leaps and bounds, and how rampant illegal letting in of sewage has come to be. He recalled that a similar attempt was made over two decades ago to introduce water transport in Cooum river but was dropped later.

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