Post Mission Media Briefing
On November 1, 2009, the Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) collected 2 tons of garbage in Tada, a well known and scenic picnic spot, 2 hours North of Chennai. 230+ volunteers of CTC traveled in 4 buses and spent the entire Sunday collecting plastics, broken bottles and other pollutants from the crystal clear water streams in Tada filling up more then 500 large garbage bags. The volunteers put up "Do not pollute" boards to spread environment awareness among the tourists visiting Tada. The team was welcomed by officials from the forest department whom were visible touched to see so many volunteers from different states and countries cleanup the local tourist spot. During the cleanup effort the volunteers encountered a large presence of gangs of drunkards who travel to this reserved forest to get drunk, break bottles of alcohol in the scenic stream and actively harass families and regular tourists visiting Tada. The volunteers made a strong appeal to the officials to strictly enforce an no alcohol ban and restore Tada again to its original beauty so that this natural paradise becomes safe again for families and regular tourists to visit. CTC also ran an online petition and collected more then 1200 signatures which will be presented to the forest officials. The team is planning to return periodically to follow-up on the garbage and drunkard problem and bring any continued issues to the attention of the media until the responsible officials take proper action.
In the link below the team collected substantial photographic & video material documenting this major cleanup operation, the pollution of Tada, the presence of drunkard gangs and the restored beauty of Tada after the cleanup operation -
Photos - various photo albums covering the cleanup operation
Videos - videos of drunkards on their best behavior
Media - various articles which appeared in the media to announce the cleanup effort
Report - various detailed pre- and post-cleanup reports on the effort
Petition - online signature petition
The Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) is a 4000+ member non-profit group of trekking enthusiasts. The club is run by several passionate volunteers who organize treks nearly every weekend to nearby and further away places around Chennai. It's one of the largest and most active group of outdoor enthusiasts in South India. They completed more then 150 treks through various locations in South and North. All their adventures and photos are published on http://www.chennaitrekkers.org/
Tada is a well known trekking and picnic destinations just 2 hours North of Chennai. It is known for it's crystal clear water streams, lush green forest and beautiful mountains and falls. It used to be frequented by many families and trekking enthusiasts from Chennai and other surrounding places. In recent years however this scenic spot has become mutilated through pollution and a dangerous place to visit due to the presence of drunkard gangs. Tada's clear water streams have become a dump yard for garbage - plastics, broken alcohol bottles, families and innocent visitors are being harassed by drunks, cars are being broken into and valuables stolen.
On the spot interview to the Media
Mr. Mallikarjun Rao, the CCF of Tirupathi under whom Tada falls come by, acknowledged the fantastic clean up effort of CTC and wanted to have a meeting with the CTCians and the locals at the Forest itself to find a permanent solution to this problem. This meeting is planned on Sunday, 8th Nov at 10.30 am at Tada check post. CTC would be designing awareness boards and get them made to be put there with corporate sponsorship, with forest department logo also. Design samples are to be shown to him to get his suggestions during the meet.
The FRO, Mr. Nagabhushan, said that after the clean up, the forest officials met yesterday and decided that they are going to strictly enforce the ban on alcohol inside the forests by checking everyone after the parking lot. They are also planning to give name tags to each of the locals and keep a complaints book. Public complaints about the guards are going to be dealt seriously. After notice and warning, if anybody gets a third complaint, they would be sacked by the department, said the FRO.
Whole event coverage write-up
November 1, 2009 will go down in the annals of CTC as one the many “1st to be there” events in its history. Whilst the world slept comfortably on a Sunday’s eve – CTC’s first battalion numbering about 230 plus marched into the reserve forests of the TADA waterfalls with one single objective – Clean the jungles of all muck & dirt replete of what the human minds have come to be and restore its natural self back in place.
The spark for this phenomenon of an event had hit us a few weeks ago and what began as a droplet soon spiralled into momentum that finally culminated at TADA on Nov 1. And just like a droplet of water that would seemingly look insignificant and disproportionate in front of the Ocean – Every member of the team, No matter from where he or she came from, No matter How insignificant an act of theirs might have sounded to the rest of the world, No matter what the future had in stock for TADA – All that mattered at this juncture was we complete the cleanup of TADA successfully. And so it was that when Peter announced the event, a leader’s vision soon sparked a few hundred souls to reach out and stand by the side of Mother Nature;
After all – Without Her, We would all be lost in the wilderness of the concrete jungle that there is !!!
No event of this scale can ever be achieved without any plan in mind and kudos to Peter and the team yet again for showing excellent spirit and enthusiasm for not letting the scales down and pushing forward the agenda with so much happening in our professional and personal side as well. For those of us who just took part in the event, the behind the scenes operation were ample proof of what we really wanted to achieve. Be it meeting the Forest Officials both at Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh and explaining to them of what has been happening at TADA and the need to restore it back to its pristine self, was in fact welcomed with praise and pomp. Elsewhere, another team embarked on catching up with the press and broke the myth apart that the young & educated here in India do not care for their country however inconsequential it may seem to be. We soon saw the press breaking the news apart to the rest of the world in their own inimitable way and slowly but steadily – the world had finally woken up to what CTC was all about;
Another team began work on spreading the word around through Posters & banners for the final showdown. With such a group brimming with energy – would new ideas be any far from reach; the thought of an online petition to Save Tada would sound like a cliché to most of the ignorant and the docile lot but for those of us who believed in spreading the word across – the journey to the mission was as important as the event itself and it was imperative that we let the World knew all about it. Mission SAVE TADA was soon everywhere – From Newspapers to the new age media, the news had indeed spread like wild fire. From Now on – It was all about execution.
Logistics for any such event is an unwritten & highly demanding prerequisite and do we need to spell its importance more so when it comes to achieving the objective such as cleaning a place that has been marred by negligence & greed for almost 3 years until now. CTCians are a diverse lot driven by one single passion – to be in the presence of Mother Nature and be one with her whenever and wherever possible. And this single determinant beats all anomalies & differences that exist in any communion for that matter; the socio economic factors simply diminish into oblivion when it comes to Mother Nature. With such a wealth of experience & selfless souls to boot – Nothing ever is impossible. Food was organized keeping in mind the scale & the objective of the event; Transport although typically is a ‘carpool and share’ basis this time gave way to Buses that would reduce the dependencies of transporting such a huge number of CTCians whilst also keeping in mind – the delays due to breakdowns amongst other things.
The countdown to the event had finally begun.
With everything in place, however there was one major proponent who would determine the success of the event. It was Mother Nature herself. Weather conditions in Chennai had worsened to indicate a possible deluge throughout the week before the event and possible chance of rains at TADA as well. Those with prior trekking experiences would completely concur with my thought on what the rains can do to you apart from wetting the rocky- mountainous paths and make trekking a lot more difficult to accomplish. One good deed deserves another and it was for a good measure that Mother Nature chose to bless our day with ample sunshine and a clear day with not a single drop of Rain. We began our day from Tidel Park picking up all CTCians on the way until NH5. Breakfast was distributed on the way up to reduce downtime. Gloves, Lunch and other essentials were distributed and we were finally on our way. Mission SAVE TADA had begun.
The group was split into 15 + teams and areas were clearly demarcated for garbage collection. Group leads were responsible for the overall harmony and success of their group. A team of Photographers were assigned the complete responsibility of documenting the event apart from lending a hand or two when needed from time to time. The Bill Board team went about its way of putting up sign boards every where possible to create awareness among the general public. The media management team ensured that the press and the local media were fed with enough information to ensure that the right news reaches those who are yet to know what’s been happening in their town. At about 11 AM, the various teams had closed in on cleansing their respective areas of garbage and dirt. Without being too modest about our effort – About close to a ton and a half was collected and we were not finished yet. With so much garbage strewn around the place & collected for a decent two hours, they still had to be moved from the respective areas to the common point where it will be taken out for disposal.
And therefore the collection of garbage had to come to a stop somewhere. The local media had finally arrived, Peter addressed the team in a clinical fashion and we wish that the information trickles down to the general public and bolsters a much needed impact to save TADA. Post Lunch – The CTCians were back to familial territory – Jumping Jacks took to the rocks and water as their home turf – Our version of having fun amidst Mother Nature had just started. A good hour in the TADA waters later– Come 2:30, we began our way back to civilization. The Garbage bags were bought back to the final collection point, but not before the group snap was shot and a final drive to collect some more garbage at the entry point of the water pools, did we bid adieu to TADA.
It’s always been said that any vision even of the highest order if driven without a purpose is a life spent wasted. And thankfully though, those of us who took part in this event can hold our heads high in adoration and reverence for all that was done on the first of November 2009. No word of Thanks can be said to that one person - Peter, for that single spark and a visionary who chose to drive us to this hour of glory – where every human who took part in this campaign paid his highest respect and tribute by doing what best he could however negligible it may seem, collectively contributed to the overall success of the campaign. I can’t wait to see how TADA will fare from this day on. Our pent up frustrations during the course of the day would never wore out like the night of the hour and I sincerely wish that we derive new meaning out of this whole episode – A purpose that shall not end at TADA but spread across other states as well.
Mother Nature needs us as much as we need Her with us if not for anything else, Lets restore her gorgeous self to pristine grandeur and amidst this all, May we endear on and seek what our purpose is for a lifetime to come...