Chennai: “The more you involve locals in a social activity, the larger will be its effect,” says Vijay, who along with a bunch of volunteers is cleaning the Manapakkam pond for the past one week.
The social activist, who runs an NGO called ‘Vaazhkai’, in an interview with ‘News Today‘ shares the importance of local waterbodies during the time of water crisis.
“If you ask about the water scarcity issue to the locals here, they will explain to you the day-to-day problems they face. You will get a clear picture of the seriousness,” says Vijay.
His team takes part in welfare activities in and around the neighbourhood. They have been creating
awareness about our culture and traditional games; for instance they visit government schools in the area and teach the students Silambam for free. During last year’s Gaja cyclone, they rendered their help to the affected villages.
When the Vaazkai team recently held discussions about the burning issues in Porur area, water scarcity topped the list. So, with the motto of restoring local lakes and ponds in this fast-growing sub-urban area, they kick-started the cleaning work at Manapakkam pond.
Explaining about their cleaning process, he says, “Our initial plan is to clear all the waste dumped here by the residents. This week alone, we have cleared 13 bags of alcohol bottles. Apart from this, there was a large amount of plastic waste too. We arranged for a JCB and cleared all the Karuvelam trees near here.”
Speaking about his team, he says, “I created a WhatsApp group and included all the volunteers whom I know from across the city. Seeing the seriousness of the issue, many came forward to help. Social activist Madhumitha plays a crucial role in our NGO. She arranges for volunteers and spreads the news of our work. All our volunteer are office-goers, so the work during weekdays is quite slow. However, during the weekends, we engage ourselves fully into cleaning. If we are able to get more volunteers, it would be easy for us to wrap the work sooner.”
Vijay says that his team not just stops with cleaning the ponds but also spreads awareness about the need to maintain them. He also points out that seeing their initiative, the locals have started co-operating and have stopped throwing waste into the pond.
“I was happy when the State government banned plastic. But sadly within a few months, people started carrying plastic bags everywhere. So apart from requesting for volunteers, I also urge people to avoid using plastics. As we were clearing the pond, I was shocked to realise how our lives have been engulfed by plastics,” Vijay concludes.
In the coming weeks, the team is also planning to restore lakes and other small ponds in Kolapakkam. Want to be a volunteer at Vaazkai?
Contact Vijay at 98841 36764.
Article by P T Usha