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Lake clean-up runs into roadblocks

By Saptarshi Bhattacharya



Pallavaram Municipality workers remove garbage at Periya Eri. — Photo: K. Pichumani

CHENNAI, FEB. 16. The Pallavaram Municipality is cleaning up the Pallavaram Periya Eri of garbage it dumped on the lake bed but is now facingcomplaints from residents of Chengalpattu where it has been dumping the waste.

Consequently, the cleaning work has been held up as the civic authorities are looking for alternative dumpsites.

The local body, in the past three days, removed about 100 truck-loads of garbage from the lake in Zamin Royapettah area and transported it to a low-lying area along the GST Road near Chengalpattu. On Monday, residents intercepted the garbage lorries and refused to allow further dumping. The local body is now looking for another site near Oragadam.

`No threat of leaching'

The rubbish removed from the lakebed had decomposed over the years and there was no threat of leaching, the Municipal Commissioner, P. Kuvendran, said. Rag pickers had helped separate recyclable material and plastics to a great extent. It was mostly earth and decomposed waste that was being transported to these sites. The clean-up was begun after residents' associations complained that the indiscriminate dumping of garbage posed a threat to their health as the groundwater was likely to be contaminated. Encroachments on the south bank of the lake also added to its degradation.

The Municipality generates more than 75 metric tonnes of garbage a day and clears a little over 60 metric tonnes a day, according to official figures. It now dumps waste on a private land near a 200 feet Road as an ad hoc arrangement.

V. Santhanam, president, Federation of Pallavaram Residents' Welfare Association, welcomed the municipality's initiative in cleaning up the lake. When there was a water crisis, the lake would help maintain groundwater levels.

The local body is awaiting the comprehensive solid waste management plan proposed for Pallavaram, Alandur and Tambaram Municipalities, which will see the setting up of a composting facility on a 50-acre land in Venkatamangalam near Tambaram. The project hangs in balance as the residents of Venkatamangalam have objected to the setting up of the facility. It will cost Rs. 2.4 crores to build the compost yard and the Pallavaram Municipality will contribute Rs. 80 lakhs. The Municipality proposes to spend another Rs. 83 lakhs on dumper placer bins and vehicles for the collection and transportation of rubbish. Another Rs. 38 lakhs will be spent on developing three transfer stations.

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