GENRE: In Focus

Source segregation of waste was a relatively new phenomenon in Chennai six years ago. Today, awareness and support of the process have only grown, but not without tireless citizen-led efforts. The Residents of Kasturba Nagar Association (ROKA) started its waste segregation programme in 2019, and improved their system, taking lessons from a neighbourhood initiative in Bengaluru. Now, other neighbourhoods in Chennai seek advice from ROKA on how to set up their own waste segregation systems. ROKA launched the ‘We Segregate’ programme in October 2023. The goal is to provide the systems and technology necessary to segregate waste in Kasturba Nagar…

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“I have got a lung infection because of the dust. Even at home I try to keep my windows shut. A lot of redevelopment is happening near my home as well as office,” says Rohini Vij, an HR professional at a fast food chain. Her workplace in Prabhadevi is undergoing renovation and refurbishment work, and what makes working even more difficult is the redevelopment of buildings around. She says the noise and dust are affecting their productivity. It does not help that it is the same situation in the area where she lives in Bandra. Rohini is among the many…

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Vasanthi Kannan resides in a Kodambakkam apartment complex with eight units. She has spent nearly three decades as a civic activist, tirelessly advocating for household waste segregation. Despite her efforts, she remains the sole resident in her building, who segregates waste, before handing it over to the sanitation workers. In Pulianthope, a locality with 2,000 households, adherence was the issue. "The government distributed two bins to every household in 2020 and asked the residents to segregate the waste before handing it to sanitation workers. Initially, there was some compliance, but without strict enforcement, the initiative failed," says Selavaraj M, Founder…

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In 2023, the BBMP launched Kere Mitra (lake friend) to ensure transparency in lake management. It was introduced to bridge the gap between citizens and the authorities in the daily maintenance of lakes, which fall under BBMP's custody. The Kere Mitras or lake volunteers are selected for a period of three months. While some were satisfied with the programme, others expressed their reservations about the selection process and lack of training. However, is the initiative achieving its intended goals? The BBMP seems satisfied with the applications. The next phase of Kere Mitra will not be open to new applicants. "In…

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It's been six months since Chennai endured a devastating flood. The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) claims heightened focus on completing stormwater drain (SWD) projects in the city. Notably, the lion’s share (Rs 1,321 crore) of the GCC budget was allocated for constructing stormwater drains in Chennai. The city currently has around 2,950 km of stormwater drains that can handle 2–5 cm of rainfall per hour. In a PTI report dated December 15, 2023, S Rajendiran, Chief Engineer at GCC pointed out that this is quite inadequate to handle heavy rains like the one Chennai faced in December last year. According…

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A ride on the dusty roads near the vast agricultural lands of Parandur and surrounding villages, and a stroll along the Ekanapuram Kadapan Thangal, one of the water bodies used for irrigation, makes one thing clear. The project site of the proposed Chennai Greenfield Airport, which encompasses more than 10 lakes and smaller water bodies, is rich in biodiversity. So, any construction activity here can have a long-lasting ecological impact. In the proposed Parandur project site, an area of 5,369 acres (2172.73 Hectares) has been earmarked for the development of the Chennai Greenfield Airport. Moreover, more than 36,000 trees will…

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It's close to 700 days since residents of Parandur and surrounding villages started their protest against the government’s decision to establish a new greenfield airport at a site in that area in the outskirts of Chennai. People living there allege that authorities did not consult them or listen to their grievances before proceeding with the project.  Just after the Lok Sabha elections, the government sent a notification announcing land acquisition for the proposed airport. Recent news reports indicate that some villagers have decided to relocate to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, as their livelihoods are threatened. The impact on the lives and…

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As the population of metropolitan cities like Chennai continues to grow, the government faces an uphill task — coming up with alternative solutions to provide drinking water for the city. While schemes such as desalination plants aim to meet water needs, the public seeks more natural and environment-friendly water sources. This is where Retteri Lake, one of the major lakes in Chennai, plays a pivotal role. When Chennai faced a major drought in 2019, water from Retteri Lake was used to meet the shortfall in drinking water supply. The lake also remains a source of groundwater recharge for the neighbourhood.…

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As heat wave conditions prevail in Delhi and parts of north India, authorities have advised citizens to stay indoors or in the shade during the mid-day hours when the sun is the strongest and avoid strenuous activity from noon to 4 p.m., to protect themselves from heat stress-related illnesses. However, avoiding the summer heat is simply not an option for the auto drivers of Delhi as they need to continue working under these extreme conditions due to financial necessity. Their earnings are already facing a hit as fewer people are either stepping out or taking autos because of the heat.…

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Ten lakes, two streams, 3,500 acres of agricultural land, 1,005 families and hundreds of plant and animal species — these are all under threat because of one development project. There has been a considerable buzz regarding the Chennai Greenfield Airport set to come up in Parandur on the outskirts of the city. But, not all the noise is positive. Villagers in Parandur have been protesting for almost 700 days and some have even boycotted the Lok Sabha 2024 elections, asking the government to withdraw the project.   Yet, work is steadily progressing on the greenfield airport and the government is…

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