Valiant efforts are being made to change the fetid, filthy corporation dump yard at Vellalore where a greening effort is underway . If residents of Coimbatore are willing to co-operate and follow a method of garbage disposal, the grime, disease and stench of the area could give way to a green lung space for the city.
More than a hundred trucks piled high with garbage, line up at the entrance of the Coimbatore Corporation Dumpyard at Vellore to be sprayed with Effective Microorganisms solution. This is meant to breakdown the organic wastes faster. But, as most of the garbage is inside plastic bags, very little of the liquid permeates through them to reach the waste. A breeze, reeking of garbage, blows across 200 acres of open garbage in dump yard. Plastic covers, bottles, sheets and wire roll into a funnel of waste gathering more plastic in its wake. If every one did their bit, this area could soon shrink to just 25 acres.
It is difficult to imagine this area was once sylvan. Now, through the year, it is permeated with foul smell, and is infested with flies and mosquitoes. Local residents have been on the warpath demanding its relocation. Even if that does not happen, Corporation Commissioner T.K. Ponnusamy says that once the existing waste is ‘scientifically closed’, hopefully by the end of January 2013, the stench will go.
Statistics reveal that, on an average, every Coimbatorean contributes 500 gm of waste a day, much of it plastic and non-degradable, to the dump yard. “If only everyone segregated garbage at home, and sent us only their wet waste, all of this can be avoided,” says K. Saravanakumar, Assistant Executive Engineer, Coimbatore Corporation. If that happens, every person will contribute just about 50 gm a day for the system to dispose of. Of the plastic and non-biodegradable waste he suggests, “You can make money by selling that. This way you recycle as well as reduce the load on the system.” But, many people have a resistance to segregating or keeping the waste at home,” he rues.
There is also the compost generated from the dumpyard. Earlier, sources say, the compost was in great demand; it was used to nourish the soil. Now, with the profusion of plastic, not many are coming forward to buy it.
A variety of plants are being raised at the dump yard. Earlier, Siruthuli had planted a thousand trees there. Now, to create a wind barrier to prevent the stench from the yard fanning out, 5,000 saplings (many of them with rich foliage) are being planted by Coimbatore IntegratedWaste Management Company Pvt. Ltd, the operator who is managing the waste processing facility and the landfill at Vellalore. Some of the saplings are the scent-giving variety, such as mayilvaagai, vaagai, naval, ashoka, neem and Bheema bamboo (said to absorb more carbons from the atmosphere). Also, the pathways of the waste-filled land are full of shrubs that yield colourful flowers, a pleasant sight in the midst of this rubbish heap.
Says T.K. Ponnusamy: “These trees will produce more oxygen. We meant to plant them earlier, but postponed them due to the poor monsoon. Now, we are digging a borewell so that the plants will have an assured water supply. The plants will also create a green corridor.”
In the midst of the muck there is rich birdlife and reptiles. Peacocks with long plumes and peahens strut around. Snakes abound. Elsewhere, a family of drongos takes to the skies.
K. Mylswami, project coordinator, Siruthuli, recalls there were few birds in the area earlier. “Now, we see egrets, storks and a lot of water birds. Probably because of the water from the sewage treatment plant and the profusion of greenery.”
Says P. Pramod, senior scientist, SACON, Anaikatti: “Some of the birds, such as black kites, crows and mynahs, are scavengers. The Vellalore wetland, rich in birdlife, is nearby. So, you see a lot of egrets, storks, teals and cormorants.”
However, he cautions that the presence of birds does not mean the area is pristine. “Birds will be affected by the pollution and fumes, but it is the food that draws them here.”