The Three Channels Of Chennai [Thirsty Thursday]



 This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club (CBC)'s themed series - Thirsty Thursday initiated to keep the spirit of blogging alive and challenging.

(This post was written for a department journal. It is co-authored by Sruthi)

Has anyone of you ever wondered about the lost icon of the city, the North Buckingham Canal? Does this name sound vague and not so Madras-ish? Well, apparently it is our very own canal that runs across the vibrant city, through the familiar areas of Adyar, Ekadhuthanggal, and meets the sea. The Buckingham Canal was once the pride of the British. There is yet another river called ‘The Cooum’ - is the name of a place where the river originates, which is located in Tiruvallur district and also some of them claim that ‘Cooum’ could be derived from the Tamil word ‘Coopam’ which refers to a well or a deep pit, there is a person named Coovalan who was well-versed in the science of ground-water. Previously this river was called the Triplicane River and ancient temples on its shore has documents which reads that one gets salvation on taking a dip in the river, it was centuries earlier though . However, overtime the purpose of this canal was lost and so did the significance of its name. Now-a-days ‘Cooum’ has become a word of abuse.

A still from the movie Madrasapattinam

In the movie ‘Madrasapattinam’, one can actually see how important this canal to the people was back then. The British used this river so as to facilitate trade across the land, and reduce famine was back in 1800’s, there are also evidences showing that Mylapore was the Port of Manarpha centuries before and flourishing trade was conducted across these rivers. When the need got killed, the purpose was lost and benefits went unobserved, that is when the pollution began threatening the waterway, finally taking over the waters and making them unfit for use. The canal is being very badly polluted, and runs across the city, acting as drainage for the sewer. The water does not just contain the feces of humans, but also plastic, industrial effluents from the North Chennai Thermal Power Station which are not properly treated are let into it. Almost 280 million liters of sewage is mixed with it on a daily basis. The waters contain copper elements and other heavy metals which eradicated almost 15 varieties of fishes which were present in the rivers. The water which was only pure and pristine has now changed blackish and contagious, which cannot dissolve oxygen and which breed mosquitoes. Each time when someone goes to London never will they fail to click a picture standing before the London Bridge across the Thames, all that we do is to gape at its beauty. What we fail to realize is that Adayar also has bridge across the Cooum, yet a thought is never given to clean it. The saddest part is that we barely have the urge to enjoy the scenic view the bridge gives us because we are too busy to cover our noses and walk away from the stint in the shortest possible time. In fact there are nine bridges constructed across the Cooum, the Adayar River and the Buckingham Canal, collectively.


In days to come, will the already lost symbol of the city become infamous? Are we to witness this decline? A definite no! What we are losing is a pollution-free transport, tourist spots, a cleaner and greener life-style. When the canal is cleansed, it could be a start for the betterment of Chennai residents, and even as an aid when the situation of drought arises. It could improve fertility across Chennai, creating ample space for flora to pick and fauna will follow. What we are losing is never seen, the benefits are far more than what we can comprehend. It is time for us to take a look around and make some change for a brighter tomorrow. The happy news is that Government allocated `3000 million towards the sewer cleanup systems that will be installed in various places across the waterways. How much ever the the Government takes up initiatives, it is on part of each of us to make sure that the waterways are clean and green.

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