Greater Chennai Corporation cleared over 600 tonnes of garbage and 250 tonnes of debris in nearly four months from waterbodies and their banks, as per data shared by the civic body.
The Corporation maintains the Buckingham Canal, three river basins, including Kosasthalaiyar, Cooum and Adyar, and 33 micro canals that span a length of 49 km. To clean the major canal and river basins, two heavy vehicles were used, while four robotic excavators and three mini-heavy vehicles were used to clean the rest of the canals.
Works include removing water hyacinth, rank vegetation, floating materials, and de-silting. As per the GCC, the main canals are cleaned twice a year, increasing their carrying capacity to enhance the storm-water flow capacities.
From August 19, 2023, to November 4, 2023, waterbodies were extensively cleaned, resulting in the removal of 251.4 tonnes of debris and 632.7 tonnes of garbage. Additional Chief Secretary and Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner J.Radhakrishnan stated that the amount of open-dumped plastic garbage is high, even though the frequency of collection is twice a week.
“We found helmets and single-use plastic that have been banned, inside the canal. This will affect the downstream and confluence areas. Waste accumulates on the banks of the waterbodies such as the Sreenivasapuram beach. To tackle this, the Corporation has been levying fines apart from continuous appeals,” he said.
The Comissioner added that many locals threaten the conservancy workers when being told not to openly dump waste.
The Corporation in the same period imposed a total penalty of ₹45,500. On November 6, a woman from Pasumpon Street in Arumbakkam was fined for dumping waste into the Virugambakkam canal’s micro canal in Tamilar Veethi while the Commissioner was inspecting the spot.
A zonal official mentioned that the accumulation is high during monsoon as water flows down to the micro canals, and the garbage is carried along with it via culverts, blocking the vents in the culverts.
“We clean micro canals twice a week and so do PWD [Public Works Department] and WRD [Water Resources Department], at the respective waterbodies they maintain. A tonne of waste is removed each time. We cannot place cameras in all areas, since there is no provision for the facility,” he said.
Geetha Ganesh, secretary of AGS Colony Resident Welfare Association (RWA), Velachery West, suggests that RWAs could be involved in daily monitoring as they are better equipped to deal with the after-effects of dumping, which can result in flooding.