Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wastes fill streets; Kerala capital stinks

Stench filled the air of entire Thiruvananthapuram city, capital of God’s Own Country, on Friday, two days after the local panchayat committee in neighbouring Vilappilsala unilaterally closed the dumping yard there, the only waste management facility that used to receive and process the whole waste produced by the city.

Stinking wastes filled city street-sides, parking lots and banks of canals everywhere on Friday. City-dwellers were left with no choice but to dump their wastes everyday at the nearest available spot as garbage trucks of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation were lying idle in the garages. They had no place to take the 400 tons of wastes the city produced daily.

The Vilappilsala panchayat authorities, under pressure from the people who were fed up with bearing the stench of wastes which were not theirs, closed – in a sense illegally – the dumping yard owned by the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation on Wednesday in the context of water contamination and spreading diseases in the whole area.

The corporation authorities have taken a stand that garbage need not be collected from the city till the State Government found an alternate place to set up a dumping yard while the Vilappilsala Grama Panchayat committee decided not to allow even a single truck carrying city waste into the panchayat area.

Hopes of a resolution to the dispute shattered on Friday afternoon after the discussions called by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy of all concerned parties collapsed. The Government said that it had found an alternate place to convert into a waste management facility but it needed a minimum of three months to get it ready.

However, delegates from the panchayat remained firm that not even an hour could be given to the Government as it had broken all the promises it had made earlier. Industries Minister PK Kunhalikutty and Transports Minister VS Sivakumar, who also attended the meeting, said that the discussions would continue.

The Vilappilsala panchayat committee decided to approach the High Court against an allegedly humiliating statement made by the city Mayor against the panchayat president. The meeting saw uproarious scenes after the panchayat’s delegates asked the Mayor to withdraw the statement and tender a public apology.

The Vilappilsala People’s Council, which has been agitating against the garbage dump for the past several months in the context of contamination of almost all the wells within a radius of a kilometer and spread of various diseases, is determined not to allow the corporation to bring wastes to their area anymore.

In the meantime, wastes dumped on the roadsides and banks of canals began to spread foul smell all over the capital city. City-dwellers say that they have no alternative but to throw their wastes on the street-side when the garbage trucks are lying idle in the garages. Complaints have come up that wastes from slaughter houses are being dumped on the banks of water bodies.

Corporation authorities said there was nothing they could do when the Government was not putting forward a creative suggestion and the panchayat had unilaterally closed the only dumping yard even as environmentalists expressed the concern that the wastes dumped openly could pose a huge health hazard for the entire city by the time the Christmas was over.

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