“As of now, we only have the rough count of the encroachments. So to identify the exact number, we have written to District Collectors to demarcate the boundaries of the Buckingham Canal in the city limit. The survey will start next week, and soon we will know the exact number,” said A Muthaiah, Superintendent Engineer, PWD.
Once the survey is over, the department would ask the Housing Department to allot houses to the families living on the canal’s banks before taking up its restoration. “The eco-restoration project will begin with desilting, strengthening the bund, fencing on both the sides, and finally planting saplings,” the official added.
The department is yet to get Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance to start the work. Officials said it would take at least a year to get the clearance and commence eco-restoration of the waterbody that is severely polluted.
“The district and State-level committees have submitted the DPR to the Union government to obtain CRZ clearance. As it is getting delayed, we have started the preliminary work of demarcating the boundaries and identifying the families that are encroaching the canal. There are an estimated 25,000 families living near the waterbody. However, we don’t have the exact numbers, which will be available only after the detailed survey,” said a senior PWD official, adding that the area to where these families would be relocated would be decided by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board.