On International Coastal Clean-up Day, students of Chennai schools and colleges hit the beaches for a massive drive and also sent out a strong anti-pollution message.

In its effors to ensure a clean environment, the Indian Coast Guard in collaboration with Loyola College and Tree Foundation observed the International Coastal Clean-up Day at all the major beaches in Chennai. The Mayor of Chennai M. Subramaniam presided over the event.

Like the previous yearss, this year's also saw huge participation from people in and around Chennai. The aim of the annual drive is to create public awareness on the need for prevention of pollution in marine environments, as visitors tend to leave garbage behind and dirty our lovely beaches.

A giant Olive Ridley Sea Turtle and life-size dolphin models were mounted on a van, decorated with various posters and slogans with the message to prevent pollution, which went around Chennai for a week preceding ICC day on September 25. The 210 km stretch of the coast was divided between 40-45 teams which consisted of around 3500 students from 24 colleges and eight schools. The winners of the ICC Competition were WCC (1st place), Kanniyapan Community College (2nd place), Loyola College (3rd place) and the consolation prize was bagged by the Guru Nanak College. The litter collected at the Marina beach amounted to four tonnes, 1.5 tonnes each from Elliots and Thiruvanmaiyur beaches and the fishing villages collected around half a ton of garbage each.

The participants in teams of 20 pooled in their energy and time, and collected trash from the various parts of the beach, covering part by part, putting all the trash in the given trash bags, filling up the data collection sheet and also flaunting banners, charts and slogans.

C. Sharan of P.S. Senior Secondary School said , “ the plastics that get into the ocean pose a major problem to the turtles and larger marine life, when they eat plastic covers that look like jelly fish, it gets stuck in their intestines; because plastic is buoyant, the animals cannot dive to get food and they starve to death”. According to a student from WCC, their strategy was to divide their team into small groups and scatter throughout the Marina, they also presented data on the collected trash with lots of charts and posters with slogans. Sindhu, a volunteer from Anna University said that it is these small steps that would ensure a better society for future generations.

An officer from the Coast Guard said , “ the ICC is a great movement which evokes people's participation in conservation and maintaining our bio-diversity, but if it is brought more into practice it would help to sustain the seas and its biodiversity in a much better way.' The International Coastal Cleanup Day proved to be an eye opener to many and one definitely could hope that it will bring in a sea change.

Pollutants

According to the data collected, the maximum amount of litter was from:

Cigarettes and filters

Plastic bags and bottles

Food wrappers and containers

Caps and lids

Fishing ropes and discarded nets

Paper bags

Straws and plastic spoons

Cups, plates and spoons

Glass bottles and tins

Rammya Ravi, III B.A.Sociology, M.O.P.Vaishnav College

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