CHENNAI: The residents of Chitlapakkam in the southern suburbs of Chennai performed yoga and meditation in the premises of a massive garbage dumpyard in their locality. This was to gain the attention of officials to get the illegal dumpyard removed. A day after the residents did the demonstration, the officials began removing the dumpyard on Wednesday.
The residents sat in front of the dumpyard and did breathing exercises. In addition to it, they also did spoof shows on the premises projecting it as a real-estate promo video and asking people to come and buy houses there, at a 50 percent discount. The local officials who saw these videos gaining traction on social media groups, swung into taking measures to remove the dumpyard.
Three residents staged the demonstrations and it was mainly to capture it for the social media. Their video received 4.5k views in Facebook. Located inside a waste-segregation unit, hardly 100 meters near the huge Chitlapakkam lake, the local Panchayat officials apathy to process, segregate, and shift waste, had lead to the accumulation. Apart from causing disturbance to residents, at least 20 cows climb on the piles to nibble garbage.
TNIE in November 2020, brought to light this issue of how the Panchayat, instead of segregating waste, was burning them in an illegal incinerator, causing pollution and breathing issues for nearby residents.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board took cognizance of the story in December 2020, and slapped a fine of `8 lakhs to the Panchayat, and had ordered to stop the illegal incinerator and shift all the garbage. The TNPCB had said the process was illegal and did not comply with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. In this regard, a case was taken up in the National Green Tribunal as well.
Although the waste dumping process was stopped temporarily after the TNPCB directive, residents said it resumed again in 2021, around February, and has been continuing. As a result, the residents were pushed to hold demonstrations like candlelight protests, drama, yoga, meditation among other things. Ramkumar, an activist of Chitlapakkam Rising NGO, who staged the yoga and meditation demonstrations, said they were pushed to do all this as only then the officials would care. “They removed it last year and again they began the illegal process. There are families living there and why they are not segregating and disposing waste, as it is happening in Chennai,” he questioned.
When contacted, an official from the Chitlapakkam panchayat said they were shifting the waste regularly and it did not accumulate in the segregation unit. Sunil Jayaraman of Chitlapakkam Rising NGO, who has made multiple complaints to the Chief Minister’s Cell, and also was part of protests, said such an illegal dumpyard located near a lake can cause pollution to the waterbody. “We need a permanent solution to the segregation of waste,” said Jayaraman. Sunil also questioned why there was a dumpyard there in the first place when the TNPCB as already called it illegal.