Middlemen identify landowners and pay them to get consent

About a week ago, the residents of villages in Anamalai Panchayat Union that border Kerala got hold of four lorries that were about to dump wastes alongside roads and in farms. They took up the issue with the district authorities and this led the Anamalai police to register a case.

Soon thereafter the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Periyar Dravida Kazhagam cadres staged a rally and also conducted awareness campaign in the villages to enlighten people on the hazards of wastes being dumped in their midst.

V. Eswaran, district secretary, MDMK, and his team told the villagers that it was not manure but waste, including those from hospitals, which were being dumped. The waste would only harm their lands and pollute water bodies.

On Thursday last, even before the message of the awareness campaign could sink in to the villagers, a fresh load of waste from across the borders had been dumped in Othakadai, in Udayakulam town panchayat.

The Executive Officer in-charge of the town panchayat, A. Nagamuthu, had complained to the Anamalai police on Friday that at Othakadai biomedical waste been dumped and that he wanted the police to initiate action against the offenders.

Thursday's incident is only the latest in the last 10 years, says R. Veluchamy, a resident. “Exploiting the gullible nature of the villagers and by claiming that what was being dumped was manure and not waste, waste from Kerala was being dumped.”

The waste was being dumped alongside roads, on poromboke lands, in forest area, near water bodies and also on patta lands, he says. If it is on patta lands, then land owners are being paid up to Rs. 1,000 a lorry load. There are middlemen involved in this as well, he says and adds that their job was to identify land owners and get their consent.

And for dumping the wastes at other places, since no money is involved, the middlemen pocket the same.

Waste dumped along water bodies in forest areas will endanger the wildlife when they consume the polluted water, he adds.

The Udayakulam town panchayat chairperson M. Sulochana and vice chairman K. Vimal seem to be unaware of the problem. They were not aware of any waste being dumped in areas that fall under the panchayat and also of the people's protest, the say.

Mr. Eswaran of the MDMK says that action to prevent the waste entering Tamil Nadu has to be taken both at the district as well as the State level.

One of the first things that can be done is police at the Semmanampathy check post not allowing lorries carrying wastes into Tamil Nadu.

The party has been demanding this for a long time and has again reiterated its request to the Superintendent of Police, Coimbatore Rural. At the State level the Tamil Nadu Government should write to the Kerala Government asking not to send lorries to dump wastes.

He says that the Kerala Government is very much aware of the problem because its municipalities and other local bodies do not have proper waste disposal facility and often resort to such practices. He cites a few media reports to buttress his claim.

Mr. Eswaran says that wastes are being transported more than 150 km to be dumped in Tamil Nadu and sometimes in Karnataka.

Superintendent of Police E.S. Uma says that when the Anamalai police seized the four lorries, they registered cases against the drivers for causing public nuisance and also under Motor Vehicles Act.

These call for stringent action and not under such sections where the accused can get away paying fine, says Mr. Eswaran.

He wants the district administration, including the Revenue Department, to take concerted action to ensure that the villages at the border do not becoming dumping yard.

M. Arumugham, Member of Legislative Assembly, Valparai, says that he will ask the district administration to initiate stringent action and also raise in the Assembly through a calling attention motion, for the issue needs the Government's intervention.

Keywords: waste disposal

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