CHENNAI: Among the many lessons taught by last year’s floods, which brought the entire city under water, was the perils of encroachments on water bodies.
Inspired by this and as part of a campaign to save water bodies, Piyush Manush, a Salem-based activist, and his motley bunch of bicycle riders belonging to the Salem and Dharmapuri People’s Forum, decided to embark on a 300-km bicycle journey from Salem to Chennai.
“It started with a move to draw the attention of the local administration in Salem to the clogging of water bodies with wastes, and to urge them to start the clean-up process,” said Piyush. In January, the group cycled outside the Salem Collectorate premises for a week to draw attention on the need for protecting water bodies.
“When this failed, we thought it would be better to create awareness among the masses and thus began the 300-km-long cycle rally on January 29 as part of the campaign titled ‘Mari Amma
Utharavu’ (Mari Amma’s order). We took to the campaign as ‘Maari’ means rain and is most revered in Tamil folklore,” he added. Twenty persons from the forum joined the cycle rally. The group also visited schools and colleges in the districts of Dharmapuri, Tirupathur, Vaniyambadi, Ambur, Vellore and Kancheepuram during their journey. The group believed their campaign would impress upon the State Government to remove encroachments on water bodies.
On Wednesday, the team dropped by Pachaiyappa’s and Loyola colleges. “We will be conducting awareness programmes within Chennai city for a few more days and from February 29 proceed again towards Kanyakumari,” Piyush said.