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Coasting to a litter-free beach

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OPERATION CLEAN-UP: Students participating in the coastal cleanup day programme at Marina on Sunday.
OPERATION CLEAN-UP: Students participating in the coastal cleanup day programme at Marina on Sunday.

Staff Reporter

Students clean up the Marina sands

CHENNAI: Several hundred volunteers came together on Sunday to clean up Chennai’s coast from Ennore to Kanathur.

The Marina saw several students from the city’s colleges and schools participate in a friendly competition in which they were judged on parameters including the amount of litter collected. The sands of the one of the longest beaches in the world were taken over by small armies in white T-shirts, combing through their designated areas for litter, early on Sunday morning.

Members of residents’ associations and non-governmental organisations besides personnel of Indian Coast Guard, Indian Navy, and police participated in the event. Villages on the coastline were also judged for cleanliness.

Several tonnes of waste, including discarded fishing equipment, were collected from the Royapuram Fishing Harbour, said R. Venkatesan, National Consultant, India Marine Litter Activity, for the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP).

The SACEP joined hands with the Coast Guard and several other organisations to take the initiative. The third Saturday of September has been designated international Coastal Cleanup Day. The day is billed the world’s largest one-day volunteer effort to clean up the marine environment. For India, the day was moved to Sunday in view of Vinayaka Chaturthi.

A total of 35 teams from colleges and 10 from schools participated in the competition. They were provided gloves and bags to collect the litter by the Chennai Corporation, Dr. Venkatesan said.

Most marine litter is generated by land-based activity and by visitors to coastal areas, according to brochures distributed at the venue. Rope, plastic fragments and pellets pose the greatest risk to marine life and sewage, medical debris and broken bottles pose a risk to human life, it adds.

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