The first step is to clean up the surroundings, which is heavily littered.
One of the volunteers, Sathyanarayanan R, who completed chartered accountancy, said, “Every Wednesday and Friday, we go to clean up the banks of Adyar. There are many slum settlements on the banks and whatever is thrown into the river, gets washed up on the banks. Seeing us clean up their locality, some of the residents encouraged their children to join us. This is a way to engage the youngsters and inculcate positive sanitation habits.”
An initiative of the Chennai Trekking Club (CTC), Sathyanarayanan said the next challenge will be to get the residents to source segregate the garbage. “Srinivasapuram
has close to 6,000 houses, out of which 2,000 are temporary settlements. Most of the people don’t use dustbins – they simply collect the waste in a plastic bag and dump it near the river. We are planning to explain source segregation and make them sort the waste as dry, organic and inert. We want to make Srinivasapuram a zero-garbage zone in the next few months,” said the volunteer.
The project has been received with much enthusiasm among the residents. Selva Kumar, village head of Srinivasapuram, said, “We are happy to have these youngsters cleaning up our locality. We are supporting them wholeheartedly to manage the garbage menace.”
The idea is to create a positive example for the rest of the city. “Every time we speak about the garbage menace, people say it is those who live in slums and tenements, who throw the trash into our waterbodies. We want to set a positive example. If they stop dumping garbage into the river, why can’t the rest of the city start doing so?” questioned Sathyanarayanan.
The team was successful in Nochi Nagar, where 250 out of 300 houses in Blocks A, B and C are following source segregation. However, Srinivasapuram will be a challenge, said Sathyanarayanan.
“It’s easy to encourage source segregation in an apartment set-up. But in Srinivasapuram, many of the houses are temporary sheds. It will be a challenge, but it can be done,” he concluded.