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| Last Updated:: 10/07/2017

Cooum restoration receives Centre's environment nod












CHENNAI: After a delay of one year, the Union ministry of environment and forests has granted environment clearance to the Tamil Nadugovernment's Integrated Cooum River Eco-restoration Project for a 9.6-km stretch between the mouth of the river and Chetpet Railway Bridge, where experts have observed tidal influence. 




The `105-crore project, part of a massive restoration project for the highly contam inated river that started last year, has a stipulated duration of 36 months. 




The project proponent, Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT), plans to take up 20 sub-projects in the tidal interaction zone, within which it has proposed various measures to abate pollution.They include interceptors and diversion of sewage to improve the water quality, river channel improvement to enhance ecological flow of the river, development of parks and maintenance of pathways. River bank vegetation and mangrove plantations are also planned to enhance diversity of flora and fauna in the riverine system. In his clearance letter to CRRT last week, ministry of environment and forests director Arvind Nautiyal said, "The construction in CRZ areas shall be strictly in accordance with the provisions of the CRZ notification, 2011. There shall be no dressing or alteration of the sand dunes, natural features, including landscape changes for beautification, recreation and other such purposes." 




CRRT will have to set up separate environmental management cell for effective implementation of the stipulated environmental safeguards, the official said. 




During deliberations ahead of clearing the project, the environment appraisal committee of the ministry expressed serious concerns over the sharp decline in river water quality even after completion of Chennai City River Conservation Project (CCRCP) of 2001. 




The project involved considerable expenditure on core works relating to interception and diversion of sewage and treatment to improve water quality of Chennai waterways, including Cooum. 




It indicated no comprehensive and holistic planning for urban development in the river basin, merely adopting a piecemeal approach. "Even the present restoration project does not seem to cater to the future requirement of adequate sewage treatment," the committee said in its December session. 




The committee observed that the present BOD levels in the range 22-77 ppm reveal sewage entering the river either without any treatment or inadequate treatment and the regulatory agencies not performing their statutory functions. 




It directed the trust to submit a status report on performance monitoring of all sewage treatment plants in Chennai, especially those commissioned under National River Conservation Programme, impact of CCRCP on river water quality and also whether the proposed project would suffice for future population. 




The state government unveiled `1,646.52-crore Cooum restoration project last year, and allotted `605 crore for the first phase.








Source: The Times of India