After waterbodies, burial grounds and vacant spots, it is now the turn of housing plots in a residential layout to bear the brunt of dumping of garbage.
The Radha Nagar layout in Nandivaram-Guduvanchery Town Panchayat with 129 plots was created about 20 years ago. V.B. Kannan, an electrician, who was the first to build a house in 2000, recalled that when he moved into the house with his family, the locality was serene and peaceful, free from any pollution.
“It has completely changed. Garbage generated from all 18 wards of Nandivaram-Guduvanchery Town Panchayat are dumped in the layout. We cannot open the windows or doors even for a brief while,” he said, pointing to non-stop burning of garbage dumped at the layout.
Office-bearers of the Radha Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association are upset at the sight of their housing plots being used to burn garbage and also to cremate bodies. M. Nithyanandam, a member of the association, said half-burnt bodies were left to rot. He complained that Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, to whom they had submitted petitions, remained silent.
Members of the civic group regretted that the Directorate of Town Panchayats, which in the past had emphasised on low-cost and simple methods to dispose of at least degradable waste, had stopped monitoring garbage collection and disposal in town panchayats in the suburbs of Chennai.
The layout abutted the sprawling Nandivaram Lake, that was crucial for maintaining groundwater level and quality. A decade ago, the residents were able to use water directly from the lake. With discharge of effluents from industries and houses and commercial establishments from different parts of the town panchayat, especially those along Grand Southern Trunk Road, the water quality had dipped sharply.
Dumping of garbage in an open spot was a violation and disposing it in a layout in which people had spent their lifetime savings to buy small housing plots was a bigger offence, residents told The Hindu. They wanted the government to intervene and stop dumping of garbage in the housing plots of Radha Nagar, clear the existing garbage dumped over the past few years, stop draining of effluents into the Nandivaram Lake and put in place novel and safe methods to dispose garbage. In the past, they had been intimidated by politicians when residents pressed for a solution.
Officials said that about eight tonnes of garbage were generated every day and dumped in three locations — Vallalar Nagar and Narayanapuram in addition to Radha Nagar. They were on the lookout for a piece of land to create a compost yard and upon getting it, there would be an end to the problems, they said.