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``Use modern tools to save waterways''

Special Correspondent

`Chennai waterways — past, present and future'

MAKING A POINT: H.D. Olbrisch, professor, University of Lueneburg, Germany and D. Viswanathan, Vice-Chancellor, Anna University, during the inauguration of a workshop on Chennai waterways on Thursday. — PHOTO: R. RAGU

CHENNAI : There is a need to reinforce ground-level implementation of policies and involve multi-stakeholder participation in tackling the environmental and social damage caused by polluted waterways in Chennai, said speakers at a policy workshop on `Chennai waterways — past, present and future' organised by the Centre for Environmental Studies (CES) and the Institute for Ocean Management (IOM), Anna University, on Thursday.

The workshop, conducted in collaboration with the Department of Environment and the German Technical Cooperation and Centre for International Migration (GTZ-CIM), was aimed at evolving methodologies for using modern tools in river water management.

The massive pollution in all four Chennai waterways — the Adyar and the Cooum, the Buckingham Canal and Otteri nullah — was owing to anthropogenic stress caused by sewage discharge, presence of slums, solid waste dumping, silt deposition and sand bar formation, said K.S. Neelakantan, Director of Environment.

Some of the agencies such as the Chennai Corporation involved in the Chennai City River Conservation Programme, which formed a part of the National River Conservation Programme funded by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, had done much better than the target set for them.

The Union Surface Transport had announced a massive restoration plan for the Buckingham Canal to transform it into a major waterway, he added.

An intensive monitoring by the CES and the IOM had shown that there was no improvement in pollution load control in any of the four major waterways and levels of chemical oxygen on demand (COD), biological oxygen on demand (BOD) and organically bound nitrogen continued to exceed permissible limits, R. Ramesh, Director of IOM and Dirk Walther, water resources expert, CES, said.

The COD/BOD levels were higher during the dry season, though levels of toxic metals and pesticides were within permissible limits, they added.

The solution involved creating a new management structure and involving the public in water resources management, P.M. Belliappa, former chairman, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, said.

Earlier, Anna University Vice-Chancellor D. Viswanathan said the university was aiming at creating more international partnerships along the lines of the CES and GTZ-CIM collaboration.

A new Foreign Languages Department would be created at the university where students and faculty can learn German, French, Japanese, Chinese and Russian languages at a nominal cost.

Speaking on the German model of river management, H.D. Olbrisch, professor, University of Lueneburg, said efficient principles of water management and land reclamation had been

incorporated in a sanitary engineering plan involving water supply and wastewater treatment.

K. Thanasekaran and S. Nagendran, head and professor respectively of CES, also participated in the workshop.

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