Construction debris clogging beach near Besant Nagar: When will the violations stop?

The GCC promised to prevent construction waste from entering the beach near Kalakshetra Colony. Residents are worried as illegal dumping continues.

Taking morning walks and evening strolls on the beach shore near the Arupadai Veedu Murugan temple in Kalakshetra Colony, Besant Nagar used to be an enjoyable experience. But, it is not so anymore. In the last two years, this stretch of the seashore has gradually deteriorated because of open defection, indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste and construction debris, and other illegal activities.

This has not just made the beach filthy, but also unsafe. Residents living nearby (Besant Nagar, Ward 179) have stopped frequenting this stretch, owing to a lack of patrolling. However, the situation worsened about six months ago, when truckloads of construction debris started getting dumped on the beach, almost daily.

Read more: Miyawaki forests in Chennai turn into garbage dumping spots

The waste is mostly brought to the beach in the dead of night, from the narrow entrance, adjacent to the front part of the temple. Debris also made its way close to the shoreline. Only later did we realise that this was being done in preparation for building an unauthorised road inside the beach. This was supposed to connect East Coast Road to homes on the beach shore.

Public hue and cry over debris

debris road
The pathway where preparation to construct a road was ongoing. Pic: G Surendran

On May 3, some of us were shocked to see that someone had placed heaps of bitumen and other materials on the beach and preparations were ongoing to start road construction. Why was there a road being constructed so close to the seashore? This totally violates the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification. Why are the authorities silent about such large-scale violations? Despite multiple news reports, civic authorities and the area’s councillor ignored the residents’ pleas to take action. Sometimes, we have also noticed GCC-authorised waste collection agencies removing the waste.

Residents and civil society organisations made a slew of representations to the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) and elected representatives about the problem. After a social media outcry highlighting the issue, the GCC cleared the construction material. Some sections of the media reported that the GCC would not allow the dumping of debris on the beach and prevent heavy vehicles from entering the beach.

A little background

sea rainwater
This beach has saved the nearby localities from inundation during heavy rains. Pic: G Surendran

What will happen if the beach gets clogged with construction material? Firstly, it is the work of civic authorities to keep public spaces clean and well-maintained. The State government must ensure that eco-sensitive areas such as beaches should not be used for construction activities.

Moreover, this part of the shoreline, which is an extension of Thiruvanmiyur Beach, has prevented flooding in Kalakshetra Colony and adjoining areas both during the disastrous 2015 floods and the recent floods in December 2023, which submerged many parts of the city. We were saved from inundation as rainwater flowed from the narrow entrance, through the sandy path and into the sea. Blocking the traditional pathway of the floodwaters can spell disaster for the locality.

Read more: Chennai’s single-use plastic ban falters despite campaigns like Meendum Manjappai

Since the beginning of the year, we have raised this issue during Area Sabha meetings and through the Namma Chennai app. We also brought it to the notice of the Ward Councillor and have written many times to GCC officials.

Dumping of construction debris: the present scenario

debris beach
Recently, construction waste was again dumped on the beach. Pic: G Surendran

After the media reports came out and the issue was highlighted in social media at the beginning of May, the civic body took steps to stop the illegal road laying work. However, the dumping of construction waste inside the beach continues to this day. As if the debris dumping is not enough, the stretch close to the entrance is used as a parking space. Some unknown entities are collecting parking fees from visitors to the beach. Unless there is regular patrolling and strict measures by authorities, the violations will not stop.

Suggestions to stop debris dumping and preserve the beach

  • Authorities must remove all waste and construction debris blocking the path of rainwater towards the sea.
  • The civic body must place barricades to prevent vehicles from entering the beach.
  • CCTV cameras must be there at prominent locations around the beach, to check for illegal activities.
  • The GCC should send out a notification preventing debris dumping along the shoreline.
  • The civic body must take necessary action if heavy vehicles are found violating rules and carrying/dumping construction waste anywhere close to the beach.
  • The GCC must identify alternative locations for disposal of construction waste.
  • The State Chennai District Coastal Zone Management Authority must prevent illegal road construction or any other violation of CRZ rules at this location.

Have you witnessed the unauthorised disposal of construction debris or any other waste in your locality? You can contact GCC officials on the following numbers to file a complaint — Deputy Commissioner (Health & Solid Waste Management): 25383734; Superintending Engineer (SWM) 25367821; Executive Engineer (SWM) 25384510/Ext. 302,228

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  1. Sarvothman says:

    The beach land adjacent to (east of) Arupadaiveedu Murugan temple belong to Sarvothman s/o Somasundaram Chettiar. At present the said land is the subject matter of SLP Civil No.827/2017 before the Supreme Court. It was oroginally given as security to the High Court by the original owner Somasundaram Chettiar. The Security Bond dated 24.08.1960 was registered in the name of Registrar High Court as Doc No.3720/1960 in Book 1 in SRO, Chennai North Joint I (Kuralagam building Opp to west side of High Court). Eventhough the said Security amount was paid the said Security Bond was not cancelled. CMP No.17284/2023 was filed by Sarvothman for discharge of the said Security Bond. Upon the direction of the Division Bench of the High Court the Registrar General High Court filed his status report dated 02.02.2024 confirming the above facts. The matter is still pending for final decision of the High Court. Therefore at present the said land is under the charge of the High Court of Judicature at Madras. Kindly check the websites of the respective Court of authentication. Several miscreants try to grab upon the said land.

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