Sewage and plastic waste threaten the mangroves of Thengaithittu

The lack of a proper waste disposal system has resulted in the dumping of untreated sewage into the Thengaithittu lagoon, posing a serious threat to mangroves and marine life, activists say. The dumping of solid waste, including plastics, compounds the problem. The lack of concerted action by enforcement agencies was evident in the raw sewage from different areas entering the lagoon, they say.

The fishing port of Thengaithittu, located near the lagoon, is also inundated with garbage. At the confluence of the Uppar drain and the Grand Canal which carries the city’s wastewater, untreated wastewater is illegally discharged into the lagoon which flows directly into the sea. Fishing boats moored at the port are surrounded by waste discharged by the estuary. It consists mainly of plastic transport bags, alcohol bottles, glass and straws that get tangled in fishing nets, lament the fishermen.

“The main source of pollution in the Thengaithittu lagoon is the large amount of untreated sewage and solid waste that flow into the lagoon, brought by the Grand Canal, the Uppar drain and Murungampakkam”, explains Aurofilio Schiavina, expert in coastal management and member of PondyCan, a non-governmental organization.

“Due to the pollution in the lagoon, from time to time massive fish deaths occur, where thousands of fish wash up on the shore. All kinds of solid waste wash up on the shore and suffocate the roots of mangroves, ”he says. “The pollution of the Thengaithittu estuary is a problem not only for the environment but also for the health of a large number of people living near the lagoon and those who use it,” he says.

The government of Pondicherry has promoted the lagoon as a tourist destination by offering mangrove and boat trips. “This is a very good initiative and, hopefully, will encourage the government to enhance this natural and beautiful lagoon and also to allocate the necessary funds to clean it up and restore it, which is the need of the moment,” he adds. -he.

According to Mr. Selvamanikandan, President of Puducherry Environment and Mangrove Forest Development and Protection Society, “wastewater from places such as Nellithope, Boomiyanpet, Reddiyarpalayam, Mudaliarpet, Anna Nagar, Engineer Colony (Velrampet), Olandhakeerapalayam, Uppalam and Vambakeerapalayam summer directly flowing into the sea in and around Thengaithittu Lagoon.

“The mangrove forests are located near the fishing port and the untreated sewage has severely affected the mangroves which function as a protective barrier during natural disasters. The mangrove forests near the estuary are very fragile and it is important to conserve them. A plan must be in place to prevent the discharge of untreated wastewater and to undertake periodic cleaning of solid waste, including plastic waste in various fields, ”explains the expert.

According to an official, the public works department has been tasked with installing sand traps in a few places in the Thengaithittu lagoon in order to reduce the amount of solid waste entering the sea. “But these sand traps are not working now,” a- he said, adding that a full sewage treatment plant had been proposed to cover the areas surrounding the lagoon.

Bryce K. Locke