Thaneer plans to create a walkway near the Uzhavar Sandhai grounds

After having taken up a campaign to revive the Mavadikulam, Thaneer, a voluntary organisation comprising young activists, has undertaken cleaning of the Uyyakondan canal, which is facing the brunt of urban pollution. The canal that takes its flow from the Cauvery cuts across Tiruchi and takes a blackish hue on the city stretch. It traverses about 69 kilometres between Pettavaithalai and Vazhavanthankottai tank, but is subject to heavy urban pollution, especially between Puthur and Senthaneerpuram. The canal has an ayacut area of over 32,000 acres and feeds 36 tanks.

Major open drains flow into the canal in at least 11 places between Cantonment and Ariyamangalam apart from a number of small drains carrying sewage from hotels, commercial establishments, and houses. Sewage from several households and even hospitals could be seen let out directly into the canal. A large number of households in these thickly-populated areas are not connected to the underground drainage system. The squalor and stench, emanating from streams of drains, not only make for an eyesore, but a health hazard too.

As the canal is fast turning the city’s Cooum, young volunteers of Thaneer have started clearing garbage and debris that are dumped along the banks of the canal between the Uzhavar Sandhai and Azhvarthoppu over the past couple of weekends. “We have started manual cleaning of solid wastes. Initially, we have identified the stretch from the Uzhavar Sandhai, and we will move on gradually,” says Vinothraj Seshan, who has been coordinating the effort.

Conceding that the task is huge, Mr. Seshan, an embryologist by profession, says there is a perception among many city residents that the canal is a drain and there is a need to change this. “Even as we were cleaning we could see people dumping garbage. But we hope to bring about a change through fieldwork, and the campaign will go on till we achieve this,” he says.

Already the public response to the initiative has been good. “People come forward to join on seeing us work. Many youth, college students and employed, are offering to chip in. We have talked to the corporation and Public Works Department officials, and they have offered to support our initiative,” he says. Thaneer plans to create a walkway on the stretch near the Uzhavar Sandhai grounds by raising small plantation to prevent dump. The organisation plans to deploy machines later this week to clear debris on the stretch before moving on downstream to Palakkarai.

Meanwhile, Uyyakondan Padukkappu Kuzhu (Uyyakondan Protection Committee), comprising a host of civic and residents welfare organisations, launched an awareness campaign on Sunday to prevent pollution of the canal. A group of members of the committee along with officials of the PWD and the civic body distributed pamphlets among residents in Thennur, Anna Nagar, Azhvarthoppu, and Bheema Nagar urging the people to desist from dumping garbage and open defecation. The committee also petitioned the Collector last week seeking steps to check the pollution of the canal.