A total of 35,865 kg of coastal debris was collected by 4,207 volunteers in 25 blocks in the State and Puducherry

A total of 35,865 kg of coastal debris was collected by 4,207 volunteers in 25 select blocks in the State and Puducherry on Saturday as part of the International Coastal Clean Up 2011 organised by the Indian Maritime Foundation.

Around 35 per cent of the garbage collected was plastic, said Rear Admiral (retired) K.R. Srinivasan, vice-president of the Indian Maritime Foundation, Chennai branch.

Fishing derelicts constituted 22 per cent, metallic cans and bottles made up 18 per cent and cigarettes/gutka packets amounted to 7 per cent.

On a 4-km-long stretch of the Marina beach in the city, a group of 677 volunteers and 120 NCC cadets collected 950 kg of garbage.

Cleaning operations on five blocks, including on some stretches along the Cooum and Adyar river and in Nagapattinam, were postponed to September 10.

The clean-up in Nagapattinam was postponed on account of the Velankanni festival.

Minister for Municipal Administration and Rural Development K.P. Munusamy, who inaugurated the programme at the Marina beach, said that the areas falling under 200 wards proposed under the extended areas of Chennai Corporation would be cleared of garbage within three months.

Minister for Environment T.K.M. Chinnayya said that the State government was taking efforts to ensure a clean environment.

He spoke about the importance of the coastal clean up and the impact on environment.

US Consul General Jennifer McIntyre said that marine debris was an eyesore and a threat to economies locally. She said that the U.S. was actively engaged in water conservancy efforts.

Need for awareness

Actor Vivek stressed the need for more public awareness of the problems pertaining to garbage disposal.

B. Ramadoss, handicrafts businessman and one of the volunteers at the Marina beach said: “This collective effort gives me assurance that we can do something to save the marine environment. I come to this stretch of the beach for a walk in the morning. We have a responsibility to keep our beaches clean.”

S.Anand Kumar, an NCC cadet, said: “What we are doing may be a small effort. But we want to create awareness among others who use the beach.”

Sai Satish, another volunteer, said that he has decided not to throw any waste on the beach the rest of his life.

“Over 189 volunteers collected 400 kg of garbage on the banks of Pulicat Lake. The plastic waste accounted for 50 per cent of the waste,” said Xavier Benedict, Founder of AARDE Foundation. The data on garbage would be used for research.