Chennai boasts of the country’s longest natural urban beach, also the eleventh longest in the world, the Marina. Stretching 13 km along the Coromandel Coast on the Bay of Bengal, it is a major tourist attraction and the hotspot to beat the summer heat and on all festive occasions; for the fitness freaks, the promenade is just perfect, for a brisk walk or a jog. A stretch of the beach is also a major nesting ground for the endangered olive ridley sea turtles, whose eggs were unscrupulously sold in the local market by the fishermen. However, several voluntary organisations are actively involved in the conservation of the species along the coast.
Until mid-20th century, the Marina was famous for its pristine beauty and rich ecosystem. Today, with an average of 20,000 footfalls a day, the beach has become untidy with the proliferation of polythene bags, human waste and other pollutants. Eateries dot the entire stretch aggravating the issue.
Voluntary organisations are doing their bit to transform our beach to its original ambience.
Recently, Rotary Club of Nanganallur joined hands with the Korean Association in Chennai to clean the Marina beach. Under its banner, ‘We love Marina’, 200 Korean families along with the Rotarians under the leadership of District 3230 Additional Chair V S Ravindran, Club President E Selvamurugan and the fishermen community undertook the cleanliness drive.
“Close to 20,000 people visit the beach daily, this makes cleanliness even more important,” said Ravindran. Plastics and glass bottles were removed and the garbage was collected in biodegradable bags. “Whether it is signage, creating awareness or helping with cleanliness, Rotary believes in giving the best,” he added.
“In Korea, we clean our mind and body on our New Year and since Tamil New Year is approaching, we wanted to give something to this city. Everybody loves the Marina, so we zeroed in on this project,” said In Kook Kim, Consul at Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, Chennai.
“We’ve always wondered why nobody approached us to participate in a clean-up drive. We are happy to be included in this initiative. We hope that this will be the first of many,” said K Veeramani, President of the Gandhi Statue Beachside Hawkers Welfare Association. “We want to do something meaningful and sustainable and bring people together for a common cause, irrespective of nationality,” added Rathi Jafer, Director, InKo Centre, Chennai. Volunteers also expressed their concern over lack of awareness and insufficient facilities to dispose waste.
District Community Service Chair Ravichandran, Annets Council Chair Mythili Muralidharan and District officials of D 3230 also took part in the drive.