CHENNAI: Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) is gearing up for the fifth Annual Chennai Coastal Cleanup on June 8, which also happens to be World Ocean Day.
The massive cleanup will be coordinated by an organising team consisting of more than 100 members — all from the CTC. The team will coordinate with volunteers at more than 15 target beach zones. “Our target is to collect more than 50 tonnes of garbage from the 20 kilometre or more stretch of beaches in the city with the help of more than 5,000 volunteers,” said a member of CTC.
Individual volunteers, corporates, schools and NGOs are set to join the mission which involves cleaning up of various parts of the coastal line — the entire stretch of the Marina, all the way to Puducherry. Teams will be formed to cover key areas like the Broken Bridge, Besant Nagar, Kalakshetra, Thiruvanmiyur, Kottivakkam, Pallavakkam, Neelankarai, Injambakkam, Akkarai, Panayur and Kovalam.
This year, the theme is ‘conservation and recycling’. With this project, the club hopes to send a strong message of environmental awareness and conservation to society.
The garbage collected will be segregated and recycled, and what is leftover will be sent to the garbage dump. CTC will coordinate with third-party recycling companies and the Chennai Corporation for safe disposal of the remaining garbage.
Volunteers and those participating in the cleanup will be educated by the club’s green team about the segregation of materials.
Last year, 5,500 people including more than 3,000 individual volunteers and over 100 corporates, schools and NGOs cleared nearly 40 tonnes of garbage from the coastline. Peter Van Geit, founder of CTC, originally from Belgium, considers Chennai his hometown. Ever since he moved here in 1998, Peter has explored more of India than an average Indian. The Trekking Club was born as a result of his love to explore the unexplored. “I was looking for company to join me on my excursions to explore the mountains and forests in South India by foot. I set up the Chennai Trekking Club website for people to register and join my treks,” he says.
With more than 50 active organisers, CTC has grown to more than just as an organisation for trekking. It supports environmental causes and promotes social responsibilities.
“We have explored the forests and mountain ranges where we could experience the virgin beauty of nature. We learned to survive in it without impacting it in any manner. Whenever we pass through tourist locations, it hurts us deeply to see the abuse of nature by humans,” says Peter. He says it is disheartening to see the mountain streams polluted, green forests choked with plastics and garbage and groups of youngsters getting drunk and ruining the place.
“This triggered us to organise environmental awareness drives, in which we involve maximum volunteers to clean up a natural location in the city,” he says.
Over the years, the members have organised social treks for the less-privileged and large cleanup drives of forests and locations near the city. “We also organised marathons and triathlons over the past few years to create awareness on sports and health in the community,” says Peter.
He says that treks and cleanups involve a mix of newcomers and regulars who develop a bonding. “They become close friends by the end of the trek, overcoming challenges as a team while making their way through the wilderness,” he says.