Mounds of non-segregated waste pile up at Vellalore garbage yard

Five years into the Rs. 100 crore solid waste management (SWM) programme, the Coimbatore Corporation is stuck where it started: hillocks of non-segregated waste that cannot be processed stare at the civic body from its garbage yard at Vellalore.

Not just that. The Vellalore dump yard of today is no different from what Kavundampalayam used to be prior to 2003 – garbage is set fire to frequently, smoke and odour fill the air, ground water gets polluted, feral dogs prowl the yard and flies that feed on garbage invade houses in nearby colonies.

These were the very problems the Corporation wanted to eliminate when it embarked upon the SWM programme with funds from the Central Government under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission scheme.

But what the Corporation has managed is purchase vehicles, construct transit stations in Ganapathy, Peelamedu and Ukkadam and engage a contractor to segregate and process the waste.

The contractor, according to Corporation Commissioner G. Latha, has not fulfilled the contractual obligations of processing the waste, producing compost out of it and closing the reject wastes in a scientific manner in landfill. Based on her orders, the civic body has been slapping a fine of Rs. 30,000 a day on the company.

The work the company does is transport the waste from the transit stations to the Vellalore dump yard and dump the waste to form hillocks. The failure to process waste is one of the problems. At the other end is the inability on the part of the Corporation to collect segregated waste from households and commercial establishments. If the Corporation were to better the SWM programme in the city it cannot do so without improving the waste collection process, which is the first step.

The waste the civic body collected from the city’s residents was mixed waste leaving little scope for processing. The civic body officials blame the residents for not handing over the waste after segregation. The residents on their part lament that even if they were to segregate the waste, the workers who collected them dumped them in a bin.

Training both the workers and the residents was necessary for the success of the collection process and also the entire SWM programme, said R. Raveendran, honorary secretary of Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore.

But training was part of the SWM project. That the residents and conservancy workers blame each other only reflects the effectiveness of the programme.

In collecting the waste, the Corporation faces another challenge in that the number of conservancy workers is far short of the requirement. This is notwithstanding the fact that the civic body has engaged workers on contract.

In the past two years this shortage has turned acute, thanks to expansion in Corporation limits. The Corporation has sought permission from the State Government but this is yet to come by.

Commenting on the problem the Corporation faces, J. Daniel, a Vellalore resident, said that the civic body had only relocated the problem from Kavundampalayam to Vellalore. The residents in and around the dump yard had suffered odour-filled air, polluted groundwater and flies.

The Corporation had failed to implement the SWM project as it ought to, he said and added that the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had moved a petition before the National Green Tribunal’s Southern Bench to get the dump yard shifted out of Vellalore.

Sources in the Corporation said that it was not an option at all. Given the Corporation’s stand, the only choice available for it is to have the waste segregated at source and processed at the dump yard.

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