Early last year, two ships collided off the coast of Chennai, resulting in an oil spill that covered an area of approximately 34,000 square metres. Though Chennai’s Marina beach was spared, the oil sludge accumulated over 3 kms along the beaches near the suburbs. The Tamil Nadu government was heavily criticised for failing to implement contingency measures and trolled for using hand-held buckets to clean-up the “chocolate mousse” from the beaches.
Now, a year later, the affected beaches have returned to their normal states. However, the spill propelled residents and NGOs to value their beaches more than ever. From preparing disaster response to picking garbage off Chennai’s beaches, volunteer-based organizations conduct frequent clean-up drives in order to maintain the city’s valuable beaches.
Check out some of these citizen groups:
Chennai Trekking Club
Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) is a volunteer-based non-profit group that conducts environmental conservation drives, outdoor sports events and social events in Chennai. The group has been organising coastal cleanup drives in Chennai since 2009. Last year’s cleanup drive witnessed over 5,000 volunteers from more than 130 organisations coming together to remove 50 tonnes of garbage from Chennai beaches.
The registrations for 2018 edition of the annual drive will open in April. It will witness Regional NGOs from 14 cities in South India joining hands for the cause.
Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network
Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) is a group of volunteers and animal rights activists who work towards the conservation of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. The group conducted five beach clean-up drives in Chennai along with CTC last year.
SSTCN is now planning to conduct a cleanup drive at Elliot’s Beach at Besant Nagar in January end, The Hindu reported.
Association of Chennai Tiruvallur District Progressive Fishermen
This group was formed by the residents of North Chennai to focus on the issue of clearing coastal waste. The group conducted a beach cleaning drive in November last year wherein nearly 100 volunteers helped in clearing two tonnes of plastic and nylon waste and 3,000 plastic bottles from Chennai’s Kasimedu Beach.
The group also conducted an ‘Ocean Marathon’ on December 26 last year to conduct awareness regarding the issue.
Environmentalist Foundation of India
Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) is an environmental conservation group active in Chennai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Puducherry, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Delhi, Lucknow and Ahmedabad. The group organises beach and lake cleanup drives.
It organised a cleanup drive on December 18, 2017, at Elliot’s Beach near Besant Nagar in Chennai. Apart from this, EFI also conducts lake and pond cleanup drives in Chennai every week.
It is a volunteer-based non-profit organisation that organises environmental drives, educational drives and community welfare events in 15 cities across India. The group is planning to conduct a beach cleanup drive in Vettuvankeni coastal stretch in Chennai on Sunday, January 21 from 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM. It is a plastic-free event and the volunteers will use bags and gloves made out of clothes during the drive.
The group will conduct its second beach cleanup drive at Besant Nagar beach on January 28, 2018.