CHENNAI: Marina beach in Chennai has been covered in toxic foam for the past one week. This marks a new pollution hazard for the people of the city. According to reports, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) is currently analysing samples from the foam which have spread several kilometers along the beach. Although the TNPCB has issued warnings and has advised the citizens to not come in contact with the foam, its effect has been little. Every day, people are seen clicking pictures of themselves in the toxic foam, calling the foam “white clouds of sand.”
Pravakar Mishra, a scientist at the National Centre for Coastal Research in Chennai who has seen the foam grow in recent years, said that it is definitely not good for people to go into the foam. Authorities, including the TNPCB, have been on alert to prevent the repeat of a 2017 incident when thousands of fish were killed by pollution that hit the beaches around the same time. Authorities have also advised fishermen to avoid going into the sea for fishing as neither the quality of fishes nor that of the sea-water is suitable for contact. This has consequently resulted in financial trouble for hundreds of fishermen who are unable to earn their wages due to the pollution.
Experts blame heavy amounts of rain in the past months as the reason for the high level of polluted foam appearing at the Chennai beach. The heavy rain, they claimed, led to the flowing of untreated sewage and phosphate down to the sea. As per Mishra, most of the foam is crated from residues of washing detergent which mixes with other waste. Only 40 per cent of sewage in Chennai and other major cities gets treated properly, added the researcher.