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Cooum to be dredged after several years

Posted on February 28, 2024

After several years, the state water resources department (WRD) will dredge the Cooum river for 2.1km at an outlay of 18 crore in the river’s north arm – the upper fork of Island Grounds, for carrying more floodwaters from areas around Central railway station and Elephant Gate. During cyclone Michaung, it took more than a day for water to drain through the river.

The work will begin soon and will be completed by August 2024, said a senior WRD engineer.

“This dredging process will deepen the river for up to 0.6m below the mean sea level,” he said.

Currently, the river depth is at a range of 1m to 1.2m above mean sea level in the city, thanks to sludge from sewage outlets and discharge from encroachments, reducing the river capacity and its draining efficiency during floods.

Out of the 55 drains that join the Cooum river across the city that also let out sewage, the Metrowater is yet to plug 24 of them, as of October 2023 data. Almost 213.6 crore was spent from 2015 to 2023 for plugging sewage outfalls, desilting and building bund walls for the river.

Welcoming the move, former WRD engineer S Thirunavukkarasu said, “The WRD must prioritise dredging the river more in urbanised areas due to sewage discharge. If we go upstream, near Thiruverkadu, the need for dredging will be less.”

“Ideally, dredging must be done annually as part of flood mitigation,” said IIT Madras professor V Sundar, who specialises in water bodies. “To minimise the efforts on dredging, they must ensure there are training walls along the river mouth and no sewage enters the river.”

“Currently, there is no sediment management policy in the state for periodical flood mitigation works,” said the WRD engineer.

Post this work, WRD is mulling dredging the river up to Aminjikarai from Napier’s Bridge and then desilt the river till Chetpet bridge.

The department is also dredging the Ennore Creek for 4.5 crore. They will deepen the creek by dredging up to 3m below mean sea level for easy discharge of flood waters in north Chennai.


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