The frequent burning of garden waste inside the National Institute of Siddha in Tambaram Sanatorium is causing problems to hundreds of patients and visitors alike.

Spread over nearly 15 acres, the five-year-old premier institution is known for research and quality medical treatment in Siddha, especially to the poor and needy. The campus is home to many herbal and medicinal plants for research and preparing medicines, apart from ornamental plants and shady trees that provide cover and add to the beauty of landscaping.

As a result, there is a fairly large generation of garden waste within the institute's premises. Staff at NIS sweep the dry leaves and grass, accumulate them in heaps near the compound wall and set them on fire. Visitors accompanying their relatives to the institute complained that due to the burning of the garden waste, a thick blanket of smoke enveloped the institute.

A visitor, who preferred not to be named, said the smoke caused great irritation not only to them, but also to motorists who pass by NIS on Grand Southern Trunk Road.

More than 1,000 outpatients visit the institute everyday and there are nearly 100 in-patients. Soon after the institute started functioning, authorities of the Chitlapakkam Town Panchayat and the Tambaram Municipality ensured that owners of commercial establishments did not litter around the premises.

The institute has within its premises, a solar heater and an artificial pond to conserve rainwater as part of its eco-friendly initiatives, visitors said, wondering why the garden waste was burnt instead of being composted.

The NIS authorities said they did not have a separate section to look after maintenance of the garden and the housekeeping staff disposed of the garden waste. An engineer at Central Public Works Department said they were looking after building maintenance and electrical fittings. However, the burning of garden waste was against rules, he added.

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