A cry for help – Save Our Beaches

The Issue…

The Tamil Nadu Government has announced plans of construction of an elevated expressway from Chennai to Pondicherry. This highway will run parallel to the coast ruining Chennai’s beaches on its way! Going against this expressway is an organization called RECLAIM  OUR BEACHES known as ROB for short.

Founded about two months ago  by a group of young individuals who are strongly against this highway, ROB does not only go against this highway but also fights for the cleanliness of Chennai’s beaches.

People claim that the community from the Olcott and Orur Kuppams or fishing villages in Besant Nagar are the cause of this mess on Elliot’s beach. But this is wrong!  The cause of the all this mess is as much the middle classes as the fishing community! The garbage is dumped onto the sea, the beach and the two rivers flowing through Chennai- the Adyar river and the Koovam river. If we look at the Buckingham canal we can see that the water is black and toxic- people urinate into it and throw their excreta into it too.

The event

On the 30th of January, 2010 a group of people assembled outside the Police booth on Elliot’s Beach in Besant to do something about this issue! This crowd consisted of children, adults and employees of the Neel Metal Fanalca company.

The group split into two groups. One group went towards the Adayar estuary and the other group went to the Orurur Kuppam. Each group then split into smaller groups of three each and started collecting garbage found on the beach such as plastic cans, Styrofoam cups, slippers ( and surprisingly even complimentary slippers from a five star hotel !). Children from the nearby Kuppam also joined this group that was collecting the garbage. “We want to keep our home clean” was what they told everyone.

The clean up that started by about 6:45 AM was completed by 9 o’clock in the morning. Everyone was dirty, smelly but very pleased with themselves!!

On the 31st of Jan. the cleaning up event ended with a celebration at the Spaces Bungalow on the Elliot’s beach at Besant Nagar. There were competitions like “T Shirt Painting”, drawing, essay and poetry writing starting from the afternoon and ending with a cultural program in the evening. The cultural program had a street play and a song about a boy falling in love with a girl who was mother nature. There were children from various schools including those who lived in the Kuppams nearby – all thoroughly enjoying themselves.

So what happened to the garbage collected on the 30th by all the children? Well it has been turned into a monument on the beach!

As residents of Chennai, please do help  in doing something to save our beaches- you can find more details on the website www.letsROB.org. You can also contact  Mr. Nithiyanand Jayaraman ( popularly known as Nity Uncle)  at  9444082401 for more information!

In Photos : (Top) Siddharth, Arundati and Vishal from Abacus Montessori School pile garbage into a bag
(Middle) Children from Olcott kuppam also participated in cleaning the beach
(Bottom) A cultural programme on the occasion

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