Home > General Knowledge, Geography, Nature > 18/365 – Cooum – River

18/365 – Cooum – River

The Cooum River, is an urban river which ends in the city of Chennai draining into the Bay of Bengal. Along with the Adyar River running parallel to the south, the river trifurcates the city and separates Northern Chennai from Central Chennai.

Origin: The Cooum River originates in a village of the same name, about 70 km away from Chennai. Once a fresh water source, it is today a drainage course inside the city of Chennai, collecting surpluses of 75 small tanks of a minor basin. The length of the river is about 65 km, of which 16 km fall within the Chennai district limits.

History: Once this river was said to have its origin in Dharmapuri district, but now due to some earth table changes, it has shortened its course to Thiruvallur district. As recent as thirty years ago, recreational boats were available for leisure boating. The annual tourism exhibition used to take tourists in the waterways until 1985. The Cooum river was clean and unpolluted in those days. The 2004 tsunami cleaned the mouth of the river; however, the river returned to its usual polluted self within a short period.

Pollution: Public Works Department sources said government agencies like Chennai Corporation and Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board and business units and retail outlets on the banks of the Cooum were responsible for the pollution. The water has almost no dissolved oxygen, and instead there are traces of heavy metals like copper, besides sewage and sludge.

Cleanup: There is currently a project funded by World Bank to clean up this river. The World Bank has approved Rs 22.41 crore for the Cooum restoration project towards development of its irrigation potential. Improving the irrigation efficiency of Cooum upstream is one of the main objectives of the project. The upper region of the Cooum, mainly Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts, will be benefiting from this special fund. The Water Resources Department (WRD) started flushing a 30-kilometre  stretch of the Cooum in December 2010, initially discharging about 200 cu ft/s  of surplus water from the Poondi reservoir into the river.

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