Harsha Koda, a resident of Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), was driving down to Mamallapuram on Wednesday, when he viewed the erstwhile site of the larger-than-life Def Expo 2018, which concluded on April 14. The beachy tracts — earlier pristine — are now dotted by the scars of the expo: plastic material pockmarking the sandy stretch and pylons jutting out, even a month after the curtains came down on the event.
“I was shocked that the debris is there even a month after the conclusion of the event,” said Harsha, who is a member of Federation of OMR Residential Associations (FOMRRA). “Within the first 15 days after the expo, the dismantling of structures was going on. But after that, there has been absolutely no effort to clean up the trash. The thermocol and plastic flex banners and packaging material have been strewn around and I’m sure quite a large amount of it would have flown into the temple tanks and the ocean nearby. This, when it lands in the waterbodies, will pollute it,” said the citizen activist.
Environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman said that holding the Def Expo at Thiruvidanthai was a violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notifications 2011. “The permission was granted obviously because it was a central government authority. What happens after that is a crime scene — the damage has already been done. The law has been disregarded. What you are looking at is a scene describing the death of the laws meant to protect sensitive area. A respect for the law would have been a good idea while planning the expo,” said the activist.
The 10th edition of Def Expo 2018, conducted at Thiruvidanthai in Kancheepuram, was inaugurated on April 12 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has been organised by the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence.
When contacted, an official from the local administration said that the construction of the various stalls and chalets was delegated to a contractor appointed by the Central government authorities. “We will look into this and find out which authority is in charge of cleaning up this debris and execute it at the earliest,” added the official.