A day after World Wetlands Day, over 200 residents of Thoraipakkam and Perungudi formed a human chain in front of a gate of the Perungudi garbage dump yard, demanding that the Chennai Corporation stop dumping garbage there. The yard is situated on the Pallikaranai Marsh and residents of areas close to the yard say that groundwater there resembles waste water from dyeing units.

C. Chandran of Sai Nagar in Perungudi, who lives barely 200 metres from the compound wall of the dumping yard, moved there a few months ago to save money on rent. “Even plants do not survive in this water. The leaves just wilt. We buy packaged water for drinking and cooking and use water supplied by government agencies for bathing purposes,” he said.

The menace of houseflies is unbearable for at least four months during the year, he said. “They almost cover the ground, like a carpet. You can’t keep the door or windows open even for 10 seconds or stand outside your home to get some air,” he said.

Mary Mani, a resident of Thoraipakkam, demanded that Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board install devices to continuously monitor pollution levels in the Perungudi dumping yard. “There is a lot of pollution in this area. Due to the burning of garbage, many senior citizens and children suffer from breathing problems, itching of eyes and rashes. Our curtains become ash in colour,” she said.

Thoraipakkam Ladies’ Club president Balam Murthy noted that the garbage from the expanded areas too being dumped in Perungudi.

Vasantha Sampath of Thoraipakkam said that dumping of garbage must be stopped and the land must be handed over to the Forest Department for rehabilitating the Pallikaranai Marsh. “If that is done, the groundwater in the area will definitely improve. We suspect that at times, even sewage collected from septic tanks is dumped with the garbage leading to further deterioration of the quality of groundwater,” she said.

The residents demanded that the civic body and the State government implement stringent measures to ensure source segregation of garbage.

Chennai Corporation officials said that the burning of garbage is under control. “The situation will ease once the road works inside the dumpyard are completed. This will permit better access to the mounds of garbage and control of fires and also dumping in a more orderly manner till the site is ready for scientific closure,” the official source said.

The source also said that the Chennai Corporation was not dumping additional garbage in areas already covered with trash. “Only the portions, which are relatively less utilised are being used,” he said.

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