MADURAI: Phanindra Reddy, Principal Secretary of Municipal Administration and Water Supply department on Wednesday discussed with various stakeholders on a proposal to start Vaigai River Restoration Trust to protect the river from pollution.
The river Vaigai, which is considered to be the lifeline of Madurai, is highly polluted mainly due to letting out of untreated sewer both by residents and the City Corporation; illegal dumping of solid waste, including building debris, animal waste and hospital waste into the river for many years now, said the senior government officer. As all the major water supply schemes in Madurai district have been formulated with Vaigai river as a source, it is of paramount importance to protect, preserve and restore the river, the officer said.
Reddy seeded the idea to restore the river when he attended the Tamil Nadu Water Celebrations in Madurai. And to make it as a people project and increase government involvement, Dhan Foundation, an NGO working on development issues, has proposed to form the trust with Madurai collector as its chairperson and Corporation commissioner as vice chairperson last year, said S. Pradeep, Project Executive of Vaigai Restoration project.
When the foundation conducted a detailed study to assess the pollution level in Vaigai, they found the five km stretch from Kochadai check dam to Viraganoor bridge in the city limits as highly polluted. “Though we found that the pollution was due to solid waste in semi-urban areas covering 12 panchayat unions located adjacent to the river, the District Rural Development Agency has reduced it in 12 panchayats by making them as open defecation free in the last five years,” Pradeep said.
Hence, the entire focus now would be only on Madurai city which is also selected among the 100 cities in the recent Smart City Development Programme. “We are proposing to form a Vaigai River Restoration Trust similar to Cooum river restoration committee functioning in Chennai,” said a senior government officer. The main objectives of the trust would be to conserve Vaigai by involving all stakeholders; to build vibrant relationship between the river and people; develop a river-front with forestation community parks; provide adequate infrastructure for water, sand conservation and protection from solid wastes, safeguard the river from sewage and solid wastes and provide sanitation (prevent open defecation) through appropriate regulations, said the officer. The district administration would soon submit the proposal to the government for its approval.