Tuesday, 8 July 2014

What do Tiruvannamalai and Chennai have in common?

Elliot's Beach, Besant Nagar. Photo: Aine Edwards
Having lived in all both locales for at least a few years, the answer is that Tiruvannamalai and Chennai (both located in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu) have tried with varying degrees of success to clean up their local environment for future generations.

Chennai has recently installed public toilets as a pilot project on Elliot's Beach in Besant Nagar, a suburb of Chennai. Although there is some controversy about the location of the toilets, it's still a step in the right direction. Plans are being made to locate additional public toilets in slum areas of Chennai.

A recent article in the Times of India covers this problem of lack of toilets on the public beaches and the best place to locate them:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Besant-Nagar-residents-want-loo-on-Elliots-to-go/articleshow/37540997.cms

In Tiruvannamalai, garbage is always a headache after the monthly influx of pilgrims doing pradakshina (in Hinduism and Buddhism, the rite of circumambulating in a clockwise direction and image, relic, shrine, or other scared object) on the monthly full moon; close to a million people flock to the base of Mt. Arunachala each month to circumambulate (walk around) the holy mountain. In their wake, mountains of garbage are left behind.
Pradakshina Road, Tiruvannamalai, South India

Although the town has managed to keep abreast of this monthly event, garbage is still a huge problem on the Pradakshina Road year round. Recently, members of Shanti Malia Ashram have been actively spearheading a cleanup of the Pradakshina Road. Hundreds of tractors full of trash have been collected and water tanks, historically used for bathing, have been cleared of refuse. 

It's heartening to see some progress in caring for the environment in Tamil Nadu. The beaches are so lovely and when I lived in Chennai, my favorite walk in the morning was near my flat on Coastal Road in Kalakshetra Colony. It's nice to see Tiruvannamalai and parts of Chennai raising awareness of the garbage issue.
Trucks hauling away garbage on Pradakshina Road,
Tiruvannamalai, South India.
Tamil Nadu is a state full of exotic scenery, miles of sandy beaches and unusual wildlife. I hope that future generations have the same chance to see it in all its splendor.