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City cleaner but change may be temporary, say activists

Chennai seems cleaner and fresher than ever before, making the city a step closer to realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharath Mission. However, many feel that this was not due to increased civic sense, but because of the shutdown.

City cleaner but change may be temporary, say activists


According to environmentalist Arun Krishnamurthy, the first positive change seen was in air and water quality, with both improving due to fall in traffic and industrial effluents respectively. However, domestic sewage and garbage generation have increased substantially during the same period.

“The streets are definitely cleaner, and this is in no small part due to our conservancy workers. However, this change might not be long-lasting, as many people continue to spit and urinate on the roads, which must be stopped due to risk of infection,” he added. He also noted that biomedical waste generation has increased due to mask usage, and that can cause environmental concerns.

With many returning to their offices with shortened commute times, life seems to be returning to normal, feel employees. “That also means that we will return to our old habits of littering and not caring for our surroundings. We will have our afternoon tea and throw the disposable cup wherever we like. The shutdown was great for the environment, but now we will ruin it again,” said an employee of an IT firm.

With no food or water, strays have faced the brunt of the shutdown while wild animals have thrived at this time, say animal activists. “Wild animals are naturally skittish. So the reduced sound pollution and pollution in general have allowed them to thrive during this time, while urban animals are not doing well,” said Antony Rubin, an animal activist.

There needs to be change in the way we go about our activities, feel experts. “People need to exercise civic sense at this time more than ever. They cannot spit or urinate on the roads due to health hazards. More awareness needs to be spread on the matter, and people must stick to it,” said Krishnamurthy.

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