Tanker operators in Thiruneermalai dispose of piles of cement waste in water body

The Adyar river, once a source of pristine water, has now become a convenient dump site for cement waste.

Over the last couple of weeks, several tanker operators have dumped lorry-loads of a ready mix of cement waste on the banks of the river in Thiruneermalai, and this has found it way into the water. After a few days, the dumped waste solidifies and becomes permanent blocks, affecting the river’s course, residents said.

From a bridge across the river just behind the Aranganathar Perumal temple, huge chunks of solid concrete can be seen.

From a distance, they look like foam flowing into the river, but a closer look reveals that the blocks consist of waste that cannot be taken back to the manufacturing plant.

According to residents of Thiruneermalai and neighbouring Thirumudivakkam, tanker drivers, under instructions from the vehicles’ owners, dumped the cement waste in the early hours when there were few people about and very little traffic.

Residents said construction activity of apartment complexes and factories was on at a frenetic pace around the Thirumudivakkam Industrial Estate, Thiruneermalai and Kunrathur, and several lorry-loads of ready mix cement passed through the area to meet the requirements of the builders.

“The waste can be dumped in potholes on the badly-damaged bitumen-topped roads in our villages. At least that way, it will serve a purpose instead of merely polluting the river,” said T. Selvam, a resident of Kunrathur.

The Adyar river, which originates in a village near Guduvanchery, meanders through many villages around Tambaram as a stream before it widens from Kunrathur onwards, where surplus water from Chembarambakkam Lake, discharged during the monsoon, joins the river.

Until a few decades ago, the river was one of the few uncontaminated water bodies in the city’s suburbs. However, with solid waste and sewage generated from homes and commercial establishments being let out into stormwater drains and canals, and cement waste being dumped, the river is now extremely polluted.

An engineer with the Public Works Department said that contamination first started in Saidapet years ago, before moving upstream to places such as Manapakkam. Now, even at its furthest reaches upstream in between Thiruneermalai and Tambaram, the river is filthy, he said.

Staff at the Tiruneermalai town panchayat said they were not aware of the dumping of cement waste problem and said they would appoint officials to check the menace immediately.

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