Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, May 07, 2002
Drive to clean up Chennai port
Raja Simhan T.E.
CHENNAI, May 6
IN a bid to make Chennai port a `clean port', over 600 volunteers removed about 250 truckloads or 1,800 tonnes of coal dust and dirt from the wharf, roads and various other places inside the harbour.
The coal dust and dirt had accumulated over the years while loading and unloading coal. About 40 tippers were involved in this.
Representing various sections of the city's shipping fraternity, the volunteers were involved in the `clean the Chennai port campaign', and completed the work in about five hours on April 27, the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) Traffic Manager, Mr P.K. Abraham, said. The quantity was only on a conservative estimate, and could be much more, he adds.
The port plans to attract export of wheat, rice and other edible items. Hence, the objective of the "clean port campaign" was to ensure that the port was free from all dirt and muck by May 31, says a communication to the port users by the Traffic Manager.
"We are steadily cleaning all areas and want to present a thoroughly clean atmosphere for handling any type of cargo," he said.
For years, the coal dirt and dust, especially from the thermal coal, which contained a lot of ash, has been polluting the Chennai harbour and surroundings. The effect of the coal dust was so bad that the buildings located near the harbour including the State secretariat, the Reserve Bank of India, the Madras High Court and a number of companies had to be `white washed' every few months.
According to a ChPT official, the port trust hospital, located a few metres from the coal berth, was so polluted that the patients found it difficult to get treatment.
Despite frequent cleanings coal dust would be visible in all the beds, he added. Further, the Chennai port could not handle cargoes like rice, wheat and even passenger vessels, all of which require a clean environment, he added.
However, after most of the thermal coal meant for the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) moving to the Ennore Port in the last few months, the Chennai port is becoming cleaner. The Centre also wanted Chennai to be a clean port, so that it can become a container trans-shipment hub on the East Coast.
The Traffic Manger said that the volunteers came out of sheer enthusiasm and they included transporters lending their equipment, pay-loaders, water sprinkling tankers and tippers as well as construction companies with various machines.
"Men and women, workers, supervisors, sports persons, officers and uniformed persons were seen with the road brushes and brooms, sweating it out," he said.
The ChPT Chairman, Mr P. Baskaradoss, kicked off the `clean port campaign', with "Sare jahan se acha" and "We shall overcome" tunes, played by a band, cheering the volunteers in the background.
"I have never seen such a gathering in this port. In the past, the port workers would take procession inside the port as an agitation. But, the volunteers, who turned black in two hours, taking out such a parade was something not seen in this port," a port user said.
The second round of the `clean port campaign' would be held on May 25.
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