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Clean the dump, GCC

Singara Chennai 2.0 may be one of the goals of the State government, but reality is quite contrary to the vision, especially considering given the state of solid waste management in the city.

Clean the dump, GCC

To make it worse, for over six months, there has been no beach-ranking list released by the corporation.

CHENNAI: A clean city is the people’s right, and an elected government’s mandate. While Chennai being comparatively cleaner than another city may be heartening to a few, it’s hardly a standard of comparison or aspiration.

Streets littered with overflowing garbage bins, non-degradable plastic and decomposing vegetables and meat-waste, and wandering stray animals posing a risk to denizens is the state of solid waste management in the city.

To make it worse, waste management in several zones was handed over to private contractors, who use various places as garbage collection causing inconvenience to the public.

No litter-free beaches

Recently, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) had initiated a survey on beaches and ranked them based on shop bins, mass cleaning, and toilet cleanliness. But the beaches were an eyesore with the shoreline in Marina and Besant Nagar littered with garbage, as more visitors had gathered during the weekends.

To make it worse, for over six months, there has been no beach-ranking list released by the corporation.

The civic body authorities had carried out field inspections where plastic products were seized from the shops near the shore, and mass drives on the weekend along with volunteers.

“Since the beach-shops are maintained by the local body, they should monitor and ensure single-use plastic (SUP) is completely banned. Many shops lack dustbins – one of the main reasons for the littering on the shore and sea,” stated G Karunya Devi, a regular visitor to Besant Nagar beach. “We often spot stray cattle and dogs wandering and grazing at the waste disposed on the sand. Even people are equally responsible for polluting the beaches.”

Though sanitary workers clean the plastic waste from the shore regularly, people lack the awareness to keep the beaches clean. Even if there is a dustbin a few metres away, they throw it away on the road or sand.

Activists and resident welfare associations urge the civic body to make regular announcements and impose fines against those who litter the beaches. Chennai beaches especially Marina and Besant Nagar attract a lot of tourists and are surrounded by residential areas. So it’s imperative they remain a litter-free zone.

When complaints were raised to the zonal officials, they admitted to a shortage in manpower that led to a slow pace in collecting garbage

Collection points

After several zones were privatised for waste management in the city, residents complained that vacant sites and dust bins placed have become dumping grounds. Also, after collecting garbage from the residential areas, conservancy workers dump it in empty plots.

“Though regularising door-to-door garbage collection has been welcomed in the area, sanitary workers dump the garbage on the road, and claim that they would segregate it there and then take it to Kodungaiyur dump yard. We’re unable to use that road due to the foul odour, and it leads to various health hazards during the monsoon seasons,” lamented D Neelakanna, a resident of Madhavaram (Zone 3).

Sometimes, residents and civic activists spot garbage burning at night. At least 4-5 dustbins have been placed on the road for residents to avoid littering the streets. Instead of segregating and taking the garbage to the dump yard, conservancy workers end up dumping it in the dustbins, they allege.

V Parthiban, a resident of Sri Sai Nagar in Perungudi, fumed that residents in the gated communities are forced to pay Rs 3 for a kilogram of garbage to sanitary workers.

“Else, they don’t collect the garbage. The owners’ association pays Rs 18,000 every month. When questioned, workers claim that the local body instructed them to collect charges,” he added.

A few residents and restaurants, instead of handing over the garbage to sanitary workers, dump it on the streets to avoid charges.

“Workers clear the dustbins that have been used for transfer point around 7 am but within next few hours, the bins overflow and litter the entire street,” he pointed out.

Lack of manpower

Initially, clearing garbage and road sweeping have been carried out regularly in the area. However, over the past few months, solid waste has not been maintained properly.

When complaints were raised to the zonal officials they admitted to a shortage in manpower that led to a slow pace in collecting garbage. “It has been three years after the zone was privatised for solid waste management. Due to a shortage in manpower, there is a delay in door-to-door collection and waste segregation. Also, there’s no awareness among residents to segregate and hand over the waste to sanitary workers. Instead, they dump it on the streets,” said M Balakrishnan, secretary, Tansi Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association, Velachery.

GCC’s response

Chennai Corporation Commissioner J Radhakrishnan stated that the officials were instructed to remove garbage from the vacant sites and impose penalties against those who dump garbage.

“Compound wall would be constructed to prevent vacant sites into becoming dumping grounds. Even people should be responsible to make a litter-free city. The civic body cleans the city beaches regularly, and the cleaning drive would be intensified,” added the commissioner.

Swedha Radhakrishnan
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