Get ready to dirty your hands every weekend

With various restrictions having been eased, voluntary groups are back to clearing lakes of garbage

On December 12, the Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) relaunched its clean-up initiatives with events at two places โ€” on the sands of the Ashtalakshmi Temple in Besant Nagar and on the banks of the Madambakkam Lake.

โ€œWe did not take up clean-ups all these months because of the restrictions imposed on account of the pandemic; it is only now we have resumed these activities in a small way, taking all the necessary permissions,โ€ says Arun Krishnamurthy, founder, EFI.

The rules to be followed for clean-ups include sanitising oneโ€™s hands before and after the clean-up; not distributing food and water; and keeping a minimum group of 50 to 100 people. And of course, social distancing.

โ€œSocial distancing is anyway followed during clean-ups as people are largely spread out and we are only going to reinforce it further,โ€ says Arun.

The group has resumed its weekend clean-up drives. Every Saturday is known as โ€˜lake dayโ€™.

โ€œWe have decided to visit a new lake every Saturday,โ€ says Arun. December 19 is for Ayapakkam Lake and December 26 is for Vandalur Lake.

Over 70 volunteers had removed closed to 100 sack bags of waste from the sands of the beach. At Madambakkam, the numbers were even greater.

Other groups

Sabari Green Foundation, another NGO that does lake clean-ups, says they are waiting for permission from Greater Chennai Corporation to resume work along a section of the Cooum River.

Hafiz Khan, a member of Save the Turtle, says they are driving a clean-up programme at a park in Washermenpet with the support of the community.

Bhumi has resumed its clean-up drives in other cities but not in Chennai.

Resident groups like the Federation of Perumbakkam Residents Welfare Association say they have no immediate plans to start lake clean-ups as the two waterbodies in the neighbourhood are filled to the brim.

โ€œWe plan to resume it by February,โ€ says N.K.Raja, member of the Federation.

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