ByÂ Ranjani Ranganathan:
Cooum River, the urban river of Chennai, starts from ‘Cooum’ or ‘Koovam’ 70 kms from the city in Tiruvallur district adjoining Chennai district. The Cooum River starts from the place which bears the same name “Cooum”. No one in the city would have missed this river and its best known for its odour and hut men. The length of the river is around 65kms and flows in three corporation zones of Nungambakkam, Triplicane, and Kilpauk which covers about 16kms. There are two temples near the source of the river one is in Tiruvirkolam and other in Ilambaiyankottur.
Ironically, the river which was once used for fishing and boat racing is now one of the dirtiest water bodies in the city. The river was slowly been ignored when the Kesavaram dam diverted water supply to Chembarambakkam Lake.
The city looked posh and beautiful when the river was maintained and was used for drinking purposes. There is documentation in an ancient temple that a dip in Cooum will give ‘salvation’. But today it is one of the most polluted, dirty and the toxicity of the water is very high. The River was used till late 1980’s but later poor maintenance and unwanted population near the river.
Later the ruling Government every time tried to clean the river which almost every time turned to be a failure for the government said they lack money or they lack technology. So, they thought of adopting the same western models adopted by them. Even though government got finances, the experts later told that the usage of western models may spoil the soil and the surrounding environment. So the experts are going through the process of reviving the river without affecting the environment.
For past twenty years the governments kept changing, telling people that their first aim would be cleaning the river. But the when the opposition party comes the ruling power they scrap the whole project to get new and fresh finances and start from the top leaving behind months of hard work and wasting people’s money, people kept coming and going, but the only thing that didn’t change is the Cooum River’s filth. Hope, that in the future to come, Chennai gets a better look and there is accountability of money donated by Central Government and other top banks and western countries. It is sure to be said if the Cooum gets clean, then half of the Chennai is clean.