Chennai: A walk on the beach and the roaring sea takes you away from the daily monotonous materialistic life. The cool warm waves wash our feet leaving us with a feeling of tranquility. But then if with the same warm wave comes somebody’s underwear, a shoe or a flat tyre the picture of serenity vanishes in a poof.
Marina beach and Elliot’s beach - Tamil Nadu’s two most popular beaches - is one of so many examples of nature’s gift spoilt by man-made trash.
Recently, newspapers were flooded with headlines saying ‘No thanks says the sea and spits 2,15,000 kg of trash back at Mumbai’. Setting a perfect example of Karma repays, on July 18 mother nature threw up the trash as return gift to the Mumbaiikers, who have for years been chucking ‘just one’ chips packet or ‘one’ coke bottle into the sea. High tides pulled tonnes of garbage out of the Arabian Sea and put them on the city’s coast.
Down south, Tamil Nadu has some of the most popular beaches that attracts about lakhs of people every year. Both Marina and Elliot’s beaches boast of its promenade being decked with cafes, restaurants and street food. And yet both beaches are devoid of cleanliness.
However, a few kilometers away from Elliot’s is another beach with a contrasting picturesque. The Thiruvanmiyur beach vaunts of having a management run not by any corporation but by residents of that area, to battle the ever-escalating garbage. The efforts by residents have lured tourists, who wish to walk barefoot on clean soft sand with no fear of treading on some spoon, fork or corn cobs.
The East Coast Beach Walkers’ Association, along with Realto’s chairperson Chander Swamy, in 2002 launched a mission to keep Thiruvanmiyur beach trash-free. President of the association, A.S.R. Vivekanandan, retired DSP, says, “We started the project by collecting Rs 5,000 from each house near Thiruvanmiyur beach. Even the association and Realto contributed some amount in this project.”
“As part of the project we have restricted car parking near the beach in the evenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Also we have installed a mike that plays the record of keeping beach clean in both Tamil and English languages. It is played on these three days from 5-8 pm,” he said.
On how corporation played its part in the cleanliness campaign, he says, to pick-up daily garbage the association with the Realto engaged around 10-15 people while from the Chennai Corporation there are only two or three people for the job.
“The second part of our campaign included keeping food stalls away from the beach. On our repeated request the corporation and the police helped us in limiting the stalls on one street only,” said Vivekanandan.
Recently, many organizations from all over the world have come up with ideas that not only can curb the garbage menace but also imbibe into people the responsibility of putting garbage in bins. While a theme park in France has trained a pack of six crows to pick-up litter, closer home, on the eve of World Environment Day the Indian Railways installed ‘PET bottle crushing machine’ at Vadodara railway station, Gujarat, wherein dropping one empty plastic bottle will earn you money instantly.
Yet on questioning the projects undertaken by the corporation on maintaining beaches, a source in the corporation said, “There are no projects specifically but we do clean beaches daily.”