The Chennai Corporation will increase the height of the boardwalk of a nature trail along the Cooum river after a study found a 70% rise in the maximum flood level in the past few years.

The work on the nature trail started after encroachments were removed near College Road last week. A place of worship was demolished for the project to be developed along a 1.5 km stretch of the Cooum from Monroe Bridge to College Road Bridge in Nungambakkam.

“We have increased the height of the boardwalk from 3.5 m to more than 6 m. A study has found that the maximum flood level has increased to 5.94 m in the area,” said an official.

The Chennai floods in 2015 has caused a rise in maximum flood level in many parts of the city, officials said. Earlier, the maximum flood level for the area has been less than 3.5 m.

The civic body has also changed the proposal to use wood for developing the boardwalk. “We will use corrosion-resistant steel for developing the boardwalk. Wood may get damaged because of the floods. The steel structure will last for more than 50 years,” said an official.

Monsoon impact

Concerned about the impact of floods in neighbourhoods of the Cooum, the civic body is planning to develop boardwalk only along 50 m of the river in the first phase and study the impact of the monsoon on the project this year.

“We will study the impact of monsoon yet again. Any modification of the Nature Trail will be made after studying the first phase of the project,” said an official.

The Nature Trail, modelled on the San Antonio River Walk in the U.S., was proposed after senior officials visited the U.S. nine years ago.

The Rs. 9.82 crore project has created enthusiasm among morning walkers in the neighbourhood as residents can walk on an elevated board measuring 1.65 m in width to be developed amidst lush greenery.

“The project will have space for parking 70 vehicles. The second phase of the project will include a butterfly park over a 5,000 sq.m. area,” said an official.

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