Over the past few days, several Shiva temples in the city have been celebrating Panguni thiruvizha. Colourful and chaotic, the festivities have attracted lakhs of devotees, and brightened streets in several localities. But the huge crowds, to whom water, buttermilk and food was distributed by several residents, have also led to tonnes of garbage being strewn across streets.

Sources at the Chennai Municipal Solid Waste Pvt. Ltd (CMSW), a unit of conservancy agency Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd. said around 25 tonnes of waste had been cleared from Mylapore and Thiruvanmiyur alone. CMSW clears garbage from the Adyar, Teynampet and Kodambakkam zones

“Towards the evening, stepping on to the street is a risk, as there are mounds of food waste, plastic cups, dhonnai and Styrofoam cups and plates. While some devotees set an example and distributed butter milk in steel and re-useable plastic tumblers, there were some who gave spoonfuls in devotees’ hands,” said S. Manjula, a devotee, who was trying to catch a glimpse of the Arubathu Moovar procession of the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore on Monday.

CMSW officials said they had been unable to sweep or clear garbage during the day.

“Vehicles were allowed only after 11.30 p.m. when we started our work. We had 180 additional staff in three shifts to clear the garbage. We also placed 25 additional compactor bins and 35 smaller bins,” an official said.

A. Mahadevan, a resident, said that cleaning had begun overnight. “This year, after the Arubathu Moovar, the streets were cleaned promptly. This was a pleasant surprise, as garbage is not always cleared promptly, especially after festivals like Deepavali,” he said. 

T. Raghunathan, a resident of Chitrakulam East Street said that while the four mada streets in Mylapore had been cleared of all the garbage early in the morning, some of the smaller lanes, such as his, still had litter. 

“But when there are lakhs of devotees and large quantities of litter you cannot really expect civic agencies to clear it in just a day, especially since the crowds are still coming,” he said.

M. Vanathi who lives on Kutchery Road, said that since the crowd keeps flowing in till the festival draws to a close, litter keeps accumulating. “The festival ends on Wednesday, with small functions planned on Thursday as well,” she said.  

At the Marundeeswarar temple in Thiruvanmiyur, in two days, about five tonnes of garbage was collected.

“There was not much in terms of weight. But the quantity was large because we had thermocol cups and plates. It meant more work for the staff. We paid them cash on the spot after they finished work. Apart from the regular bins, we had placed 70 small bins and 12 big bins. Another advantage was that volunteers from the temple kept cleaning the roads as the temple car moved,” said a source.

B. Meera, a resident of Thiruvanmiyur, who went to the temple on Monday evening, said that the roads around the temple had only the usual amount of garbage while inside the temple it was very clean.

Shanta Krishnaswami, who visited the temple on Tuesday, said the temple and its surroundings had been cleaned so well and there was no trace of the massive event that had taken place.

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