The trash was ‘pushed’ into the sea after the Veli Estuary was opened to avoid flooding but was returned to the coast after the rains subsided.

11000 plastic bottles 800 sandals recovered in clean-up drive on Tpuram coast
news Cleanliness Drive Saturday, August 04, 2018 - 13:54

Garbage, including liquor bottles ‘pushed’ into Thiruvananthapuram sea following last week’s heavy rains, was returned to the coast by ‘furious’ waves. 

The trash was ‘pushed’ into the sea after the Veli Estuary was opened to avoid flooding in the city. 

However, when the rains subsided, the sea returned the garbage to the coast. 

A clean-up drive conducted by a Thiruvananthapuram-based marine research group at the mouth of the Veli Estuary on Thursday threw up, among other things, more than 11,000 plastic bottles, 800 leather, plastic sandals and liquor bottles. 

And all of this was from an area of 700 sq. feet. 

Friends of Marine Life (FML) convenor Robert Panipilla said that the waste flowed into the sea as the sand banks were breached to let out the floodwater from the city area.

“The breaching of the ‘Pozhi’ normally should not pose a problem. But in this case, all the garbage that had clogged the Amayizhinjan Canal, Parvathy Puthanar and the Akkulam and Veli lakes also were discharged into the sea. Our survey, which covered the sea from Perumathura to Vizhinjam, showed that the estuary waters had mixed with the sea water over an eight-km region,’’ Robert said. 

At the end of the clean-up, FML volunteers had hauled in 11,773 plastic bottles, 1,538 leather and plastic sandals, and 834 liquor bottles from a 700 sq. foot-area at the estuary mouth. 

According to the United Nations, each year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, destroying marine life, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. Up to 80% of all litter in our oceans is made of plastic.

Global studies claim that at the rate we are dumping items such as plastic bottles, bags and cups after a single use, by 2050, oceans will carry more plastic than fish and an estimated 99% of seabirds would have ingested plastic.

Meanwhile, Robert said that this is not a new phenomenon.

Following Cyclone Ockhi, the FML initiated a clean up drive and recovered 400 kg of ghost nets from two different locations in the Vizhinjam seabed in just 90 minutes.

Ghost nets trap and kill millions of marine animals. Additionally, ghost nets also cause damage by entangling live corals, smothering reefs and introducing parasites and invasive species into reef environments.

A few years ago, underwater photographs taken by FML divers had revealed the effects of thoughtlessly ejecting wastes generated in the city into the sea. In fact, large swathes of the near-shore seabed off Thiruvananthapuram, have already been converted into an ever-growing trash dump. 

The polluted coastal waters are gradually turning into a barren area for fishermen. 

“We also found that except for the small ‘Kozhiyala’, all other types of fish have fled this contaminated region,’’ Robert said. 

The FML volunteers collected the waste and informed the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation so that it could be disposed of, properly.