CHENNAI: As the sun rose from Bay of Bengal over Chennai’s horizon on Friday, a sea of people walked on the shores of Marina beach. The breeze seemed unusually fresh and the beach, much cleaner than before.
In February 2019, nearly 160 tonnes of garbage has been cleared from the Marina beach by the Chennai Corporation as against the usual clearance of 130-140 tonnes for a period of 28 days. At Besant Nagar beach, approximately 45 tonnes of garbage was cleared in February, against the usual 20 tonnes per month.
The beach clean-up is a part of the tourism department’s Bharat Darshan project funded by the central government. The project proposes to provide facilities like wider footpaths and modern toilets at the beaches. Eight tractor-driven beach cleaning machines — three for Besant Nagar and five for Marina Beach — were procured by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) at Rs 84 lakh each. The work began in the second week of January.
“This is the first time such equipment has been procured for clean-up in Besant Nagar and Marina beaches. Previously, there was only one small machine and 98 sweepers for cleaning. Now, we have a total of 125 sweepers and five machines for Marina beach alone. The machines have an average cover of eight acres per hour and can clean even small bits of garbage,” said a senior official from GCC.
The cleaning work is being undertaken in both the beaches between 6 am and 2 pm, daily. “With a large footfall and hundreds of stalls located inside and near the beach, garbage is unavoidable. During festivals, it is worse. Machines like this reduce the time taken to clean the beach. Usually in the morning, we are greeted by conservancy workers hand-picking plastic bottles and soda cans — which is not a very pleasant sight to start your day with. From February, we, morning walkers, were delighted to see a clean beach, by the time we reached here,” said R Krishnamoorthy, a regular walker at Marina beach.
Though the residents of Besant Nagar were initially against the beach development idea, a lot of regular visitors shared their delight with CE. AKK Raju, a resident of Besant Nagar for 50 years said, “When I moved to Besant Nagar, the Velankanni Church was under construction. If we had opposed the developments here, you probably would not see benches, community gym, footpaths, etc, that you see at the beach today. Of everything that the Corporation had taken up, better garbage collection is the best move so far.”
Regular volunteers of beach clean-ups highlighted the need for initiatives from and responsibility of visitors for ocean conservation. “Single-use, low quality plastic — used in carry bags, multi-layered packaging, single-use cups and cutlery — is hard to collect and segregate. Even if collected and segregated, they end up on our beaches and streets because there is no facility to recycle,” said P Neelambari, a volunteer.
The beach clean-up is a part of the tourism department’s Bharat Darshan project funded by the central government. The project proposes to provide facilities like wider footpaths and modern toilets at the beaches.