The fire that consumed tonnes of plastic waste piled up at the Kochi Corporation’s solid waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram has sparked off a stiff resistance against dumping of waste at the plant.
The Malinya Nikshepa Virudha Samithi on Saturday demanded the civic body not to dump even a single load of waste at the plant.
“We believe the plastic waste was purposely set on fire as the Corporation has no other alternative to deal with the ever increasing waste. We have lost confidence in the Corporation and hence will not allow dumping of waste at the plant till the government or a responsible agency guarantees proper management of the plant,” Samithi convener Abdul Basheer told The Hindu.
V.P. Sajeendran, MLA, was scathing in his criticism of the Corporation while supporting the decision of the Samithi.
“The Corporation handled the situation in the most irresponsible manner. Only a health inspector bothered to visit the plant after the incident. The Collector has been asked to stop vehicles carrying waste from entering the plant until a solution is found,” he said.
He said the Corporation flouted its agreement with the Puthencruz panchayat to dump only Corporation waste at the plant. The civic body’s practice of dumping waste from other municipalities would not be allowed in the future, he said. K. Sajeevan, chairman, Pollution Control Board, said a show cause notice would be issued to the civic body for the irresponsible handling of plastic waste. The co-incineration method whereby plastic waste can be used as fuel in cement manufacturing was a solution to the issue. “The State government is already pursuing it,” he said.
A. Sajidas, director of Biotech, under the Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources, said a technology whereby plastic can be melted and converted in to furnace oil had been successfully implemented in States such as Tamil Nadu. “Setting up such a plant may cost an initial investment of Rs. 9 crore but the operational cost is negligible. Besides, there are agencies and small industries outside the State prepared to accept plastic waste provided it is not mixed with organic waste,” he said.
Meanwhile, the plastic waste that caught fire on Friday kept smouldering for the good part of Saturday. Three fire tenders from Tripunithura and Thrikkakara fire stations fought the fire for four hours till 2.30 p.m. Smoke continued to billow from the plastic waste spread over 20 acres and was put out only after mud was spread over it, a firefighter said.
Environmentalist S. Sitaraman said burning plastic unleashed poisonous vapours like dioxins, furan, hydrogen chloride, Carbonyl Chloride, which are highly detrimental to health. He said setting fire to plastic waste was a common practice adopted by local bodies across the district.
It is learnt that the Corporation is mulling capping plastic waste, a method it has been using to deal with biodegradable waste. The Corporation disposes of around 40 tonnes to 60 tonnes of waste a day, of which 20 to 25 tonnes are plastic waste.