N Chennai residents rue industrial and coastal pollution

“Basic irritation in the trachea, headache, giddiness are some common symptoms of pollution. But when people are constantly getting exposed to pollution, people tend to get different types of illnesses including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS),” says a Chennai based pulmonologist.
N Chennai residents rue industrial and coastal pollution
Representative image.

CHENNAI: Solid waste management, coastal pollution including oil spills and air pollution are the three major issues haunting north Chennai, opine some of the residents and social activists.

According to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) data from 2018 to 2021, on days like Bhogi or other festivals the air pollution levels often cross the permissible levels.

The highest air pollution was recorded in Royapuram with 1,922 micrograms/m3 on Jan 13, 2019, followed by 1,916 micrograms/m3 on Jan 14, 2021, said TNPCB insiders stating the awareness of air pollution is low among north Chennai residents and industrial areas like Manali, Madhavaram, Ennore and Eranavur.

“Inhaling pollution for a longer period might get air-related allergies and chronic diseases, especially in children and senior citizens. Nowadays, even youngsters are getting asthma-related symptoms so common due to unchecked air pollution,” says chest physician Dr Ganga Devi, founder of Dr G’s Health Clinic, Coimbatore. Pregnant women (and fetuses) and the aged are most vulnerable to air pollution-related ailments. Air pollution also affects the brain development in children and even there are cases of adults falling into depression, says Dr Ganga Devi.

“Basic irritation in the trachea, headache, giddiness are some common symptoms of pollution. But when people are constantly getting exposed to pollution, people tend to get different types of illnesses including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS),” says a Chennai based pulmonologist.

“Sixty years ago, we had systematic monsoon where normal rainfall was recorded.” With energy consumption going unchecked in recent years, industries have started operating round the clock. The increase in the use of petrol and diesel will also lead to global warming and increased air pollution levels,” says Ashok Kumar R, climate change expert.

“Over the years, north Chennai had been reeling from various concerns. The regions that house the working-class population struggle with solid waste management, coastal pollution and air pollution among other concerns,” rues Ashok Kumar.

Though the state has constantly asserted the initiative ‘Zero Waste Chennai’, the project barely saw any light in north Chennai. For instance, the 258-acre Kodungaiyur dump yard receives 2,500 tonnes of waste every day.

The residents near the area tell DT Next that they have been inhaling the smoke for decades now.

Coastal pollution is another threat. Over the years, the coast has seen a slew of contamination from oil spill to effluent discharges from factories. “The coastal pollution is not just about government negligence and apathy. It is a deliberate act of arrogance by the officials, who failed to pay heed to both the environmental and human crisis of north Chennai,” said Pugazhendhi, fisherman from Kasimedu.

Dangerous levels of toxic particles in Ennore, Manali and Royapuram had over the years resulted in various health concerns among its locals, he adds.

“North Chennai and pollution of various sorts have not found any solution over the years,” says G Sarath Kumar, an advocate in Madras High Court and resident of Vysarpadi.

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