Snails crossing: Tread carefully

OMR Sights 025Padur lake viewed from my 9th floor apartment on Chennai’s  OMR

I have heard Padur residents get water supplied from a  lake in their backyard. Truckloads of water Mantri Synergy residents used to get before borewells in their complex got  activated was,  presumably,  sourced from this lake.  Oddly enough,  I didn’t, till now,  bring myself to visiting  the lake that I can view  from my high-rise.  Trip to the lake entails a walk through narrow, not so clean,  street through  Padur.    A  lakeside walk early this morning proved educative, if  thought-provoking. Winding our way through the unmade road my wife and I felt  embarrassed, on occasions,  at,  what may well be a common sight for the locals .  It was as if, with our appearance,  we intruded on the early morning  routine of some people. Their tell-tale movement  close to the lake, so early in the day,  suggest the following:
1) There is a crying need for a row of public toilets, well watered through a pipeline  from the lake,  for the benefit of those now using lakeside bushes for the purpose.
2) The water body needs to be fenced off in populated segments , making  it inaccessible to public.
3) The muddy pathway that runs along the lake is so littered with snails that there is case for a signpost, saying,  ‘Snails Crossing: Tread/Drive Carefully’.

Snails, out and about in scores, had the run of the road , in early mornings. Snails, they say, move about at night, and hibernate during the day. They detest brightness of the sun. And before the sun came up the snails seem to be ‘hurrying’ to their hideouts. Speaking of snail’s pace, they say  the fastest of the species can move 50 yards per hour.

The need for fencing off the lake can’t be overstated. Tamil Nadu water  supply undertaking has a pumping station that was put up five years back  under a community drinking water supply scheme  funded by the Asian Development Bank.  Lake-fencing, and provision of public toilets, which might not have been necessary when the drinking water scheme was launched,  in 2008,  now appears  critical to the continued  survival of the lake as a source of water for the ever growing Padur and its OMR neighbourhood.

Suggestion: Engineering students/faculty in neighbourhood  institutions such as Hindustan University  and Mohd. Sathak Engineering College can take up Padur lake improvement as a class project. The project report they come up with can become a campaign theme for OMR Greens for mobilizing public support for implementation of the lake conservation scheme.

Snails ln the lakeside road


Sourced from OMR Resident



Trash-busters @ OMR, Chennai

OMR Greens write-up0001A reader of TOI article – OMR residents go on trash-busting drives – left a comment, asking “Where does the garbage and trash go? How do you transport it ?”   Philo Stalwin,  a resident of Kelambakkam, provides the answer:  In a mail to  OMR Greens   Stalwin says the garbage that the local panchayat collects from households and streets is dumped in make-shift landfill  by the side of  a lake  behind the Puravankara residential complex that is under construction. The trash heap is set on fire ,  every other night, burning the dump to make space for more garbage.

Trash that is burnt,  unsorted,  may include used tyre,  plastics,  spent battery,  expired medicine , and substances generating toxic fume that spread in the wind in populated neigbourhoods.  Isn’t it time people living in emerging high-rise buildings took congnizance of this smouldering health hazard ?

Skeptics ask  OMR Greens,  ‘what is the big deal in trash-busting  when garbage gets dumped at the same spot the day after it is done’?  Trash-busting is not a waste disposal solution,  but a token initiative by a community group,  to create public awareness  that waste disposal problem  can only get worse, and eventually,  unmanageable,   if we continue to  ignore it.  And   a solution has to be sought with community participation.

OMR Greens is for  a cluster approach to creating infrastructure,  for effective waste and sewage disposal. Government and civic bodies never allocate adequate funds .  Trash-busting is our ways of mobilizing support for setting up area-specific,  locality-wise waste-to-energy plant.  It is  a residents  initiative to bring together,  neighbourhood people,  panchayat, and property developers , as joint stakeholders  in creating and sustaining  social assets such as  waste-to-energy plants,  sewage-free neighbourhood lakes,  community tree-planting in public space.

Hand-in-Hand,   an NGO runs  Mamallapuram waste-to-energy unit  fed on kitchen waste collected from households,  restaurants, and hotels.  They generate energy enough to light their 3-acre unit,  and also the street that leads from the plant to ECR. The land for the waste conversion unit has been given by the local panchayat. The Mamallapuram waste-to-energy plant is located on land that was used as a trash dump by the civic authorities.

Kelambakkam panchayat can learn a lesson here.   What they can do :

1) Set aside ,  for waste-energy conversion plant,   a part of the land that is now used for dumping and burning trash;

2) Seek guidance of  NGO – Hand-in-Hand, Exnora  IndrakumarVivekananda Kendra  –  to prepare a project proposal, and costs estimate.

3) Convene a ‘town-hall’ public hearing,  to share with residents  project details,  and proposal for a monthly waste-disposal charges  (like OMR Expressway toll)  to be  collected from residents,  shops, eating houses and corporates located in the panchayat area; and

4) Levy social infrastructure fee on property developers, in proportion to the scale, size and the number of apartments.