What’s that burning smell?

That’s the question that pops into your head every single morning if you’re living in Perungudi, Thoraipakkam and other places along the Old Mahabalipuram Road. We used to think that someone was burning refuse close by (every morning?), but now we realize that the smell is due to the smoke, soot and other air borne particles blowing in from the Pallikaranai Garbage dump, from the burning refuse.

The smoke blows across many kilometers of densely populated areas depending on the direction of the breeze. Later in the day, there is some respite because the sea breeze blows it West wards. But during the night, the warmer land breeze blows out to sea, carrying the smoke towards the coast.

The recent report on the level of air pollution being the highest in the world by a private environmental agency is being largely ignored by everyone. Granted, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has ordered a stop to it, but the Chennai Corporation continues to dump over 1800 tonnes of garbage a day into the Pallikaranai wet lands. Residents have petitioned the authorities, blocked the garbage trucks, done signature campaigns door to door and everything else you can think of. But the Corporation continues to dump garbage regardless.

What will it take to end this travesty?

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