Chennai is a place which is affected by droughts in summers and heavy rain falls during monsoon. It is also riddled with rapid urbanization, encroachments, pollution, silting and contracting and dying water bodies. Unfortunately, despite nature’s gift to the city, the water bodies have been poorly maintained.
Led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living, volunteers have come together to clean and revive 423 water bodies in Chennai and surrounding areas including 145 corporation water bodies, 39 Temple tanks under the Hindu Religious Endowment Board and other remaining water bodies in Chennai under the ‘Namma Ooru Namma Kulam’ (Our Town Our Pond). We are told that the necessary permissions were taken by the volunteers and teachers.
As part of the initiative, 30 students from IIT Madras joined the initiative to clean the Karappakam pond, Perungudi lake and Periya Keni Kulam. More than five ton of garbage was removed from the pond by the volunteers.
Aman Verma, student from IIT Madras said
“We aim to create at least a year-long campaign. We are looking to continue the work of cleaning the water bodies of our city which was long due.”
Along with physical cleaning, chemical free treatment with bio enzymes was carried out to improve the overall water quality of the pond. Along with the cleaning, an awareness campaign was held to motivate people to take up the responsibility for cleaner ponds. Disease control and reducing the ground water pollution were the resulting benefits of pond cleaning, according to the volunteers. This project seems to have motivated the youth towards these drives taking place in the city and students from many other prestigious colleges and institutions are joining hands with the organisation in this initiative.
Pond conservation troops have been formed that aim to maintain the cleanliness of the city’s ponds. Their aim is to arrest the use of ponds as dumping grounds and create more awareness among the citizenry.
‘Namma Ooru Namma kulam’ seems to be taking a holistic approach since they also filter and deepen the pond to increase water storage capacity. The volunteers say that because of their efforts, ground water level has been increased and biodiversity has been maintained, around the pond area.
Divya who volunteered for the cleaning drive for the first time, said
“I have been working in Chennai but I was not satisfied. Contributing to social projects like this gives me purpose and happiness.”