The Three Rivers of Chennai

Cooum River

Once designated as the “Thames of South India”, the 64-kilometer long Cooum River, like many other water bodies of Chennai, is dying a slow death.   This river that frolicked with life not so long ago has a sad story to share today. Excessive use of the river’s water for irrigation, direct discharge of industrial effluents, encroachment along its banks, and drainage of untreated sewage into it have turned the once-beautiful Cooum River into a narrow, slow, meandering dump yard.

Cooum River (Image by: D. Sampathkumar)

The Cooum River originates from a village of the same name in Tiruvalluvar district, almost bisects Chennai while passing through the city, and ends its journey by draining into the Bay of Bengal. Presently, with the government’s and civic bodies’ measures to restore it, the river’s future might not be so forlorn after all. Yet, the onus of responsibility falls equally on residents of Chennai as well. What are the steps that can be taken on an individual basis to save the “Thames of South India”? Click this link to read Lakes Of India’s article.

Adyar River

After years of government investments, the Adyar River is showing a slow recovery. The toxicity and pollution levels of this 42-kilometer long water body have come down after continuous revamp measures by the Chennai River Restoration Trust (CRRT) and other civic bodies. However, the amounts of raw sewage and wastes being dumped into the river is still a cause of concern.

Two of the most noted specialities that make this river unique are the Adyar Estuary and the Adyar Creek. The estuary region stretches from the Thiru Vi Ka Bridge (that spans over a section of the Adyar River in R.A Puram) to the river mouth, while the creek runs from the Santhome Causeway to the mouth of the river, both covering an area of about 358 acres in total. Today, one only hopes that this river springs back to life and be the source of inspiration and joy that it once used to be.

Kosasthalaiyar River

The lesser known, lesser polluted and largest of the three rivers of Chennai, Kosasthalaiyar River originates near Pallipattu in Tiruvalluvar district, flows in the northern parts of the city, and drains into the Bay of Bengal at the Ennore Creek. Having a length of around 136 kilometres, this river too has fallen prey to human encroachment and discharge of effluents.

Chennai’s three rivers are a sore reminder of the despairing future we are headed towards. Polluted and almost lifeless, the dire condition of these water bodies is exigent. Greater effort is required – both by governmental bodies and the general masses – to revamp them.

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