Chennaites heard that last Sunday morning a 15 kms stretch of the Chennai Coast line from Marina Beach to Injambakkam was cleaned and there were around 2400 volunteers who collected 17.6 tonnes of garbage in over 1700 bio degradable bags. Early morning 6 a.m. saw these people at the beaches and they tirelessly picked trash littered all over for 3 hours. An effort that needs to be applauded for there were so many different groups who volunteered to join in and the participants’ age ranged from 5 – 86. Monica who participated in this cleanup as a volunteer commented
‘I am a member of the Chennai Trekkers Club (CTC) and that is how I got to hear about this beach cleaning activity. It is the awareness that this exercise has created that I am excited about. I registered with my college alumni and participated in the Palavakkam beach area, the Besant nagar beach had so many people that they could form a human chain to pass the garbage bags’. When I asked her 8 year old daughter Megna about the cleaning experience, the immediate response was ‘I collected plastic covers in a red colour bag and my mother collected other garbage in a green colour bag. I learnt that by throwing waste in the beaches we are polluting the environment and I will never dirty the beaches again’. I think that from a little girl says it all.
If the participants have rightfully taken pride about the work accomplished, the organisers too are pretty excited about the outcome of their initiative. Thilak Raj, a member of CTC and a volunteer who co-ordinated with the Mayor, Corporation authorities and Government officials explained that once he reached the Mayor and the Commissioner of Chennai Corporation, briefed them on the plans there was a lot of help that came from the authorities. The Mayor himself was personally present to inaugurate the cleaning activity. He went on to add that this was not just once in a while affair for CTC has been asked to come up with a proposal to make beach cleaning a continuous activity.
If we are seeing the effect of CTC being able to spread the word and get people from corporates, schools, homes and several individuals into participating the cause has been Peter Van Geit, a Belgium National who came to Chennai in the year 1998. I had a brief chat with Peter and he told me that he came to Chennai on a one year work assignment and it got extended a couple of times and since he was getting fascinated with Chennai he decided to make it his home. He was always an outdoor person and so enjoyed the scenic beauty of places around Chennai, he casually started the CTC and invited like minded people to join and go on weekend hikes and treks to different places. They have done several treks over the years and the group is now 15000 members strong. Realising that the city of Chennai can do with a cleaner environment, the CTC organised a few clean ups. But this is the first one of this magnitude. Peter said that they worked for 4 weeks on spreading the word through social networking sites, putting up posters, getting sponsorships, informing the media and ensuring that the Corporation disposed the garbage collected. He said ‘It was amazing to see so many people turn up in the early hours of a Sunday morning and truly touching to see sights like an old man 86 years and his wife almost his age bending down and collecting garbage’.
Participants of this beach cleaning activity truly wish that their friends and families who have heard about their effort, while enjoying the sea breeze in the beaches of Chennai, pause and take the trouble to throw garbage only in bins. A rippling effect can be created and a great impact can be made on the society. Chennaites aren’t cleaner beaches a gift we can give ourselves!
Contact Bhavana 91 8754574390
Written by Mala
Posted on 10/02/2012