Stench from the Vilappilsala plant had triggered public protests, forcing authoirities to halt dumping at the site

The setback suffered by the ambitious garbage processing plant of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation at Vilappilsala can give some hard lessons to the Kochi Corporation authorities who are planning to set up a new centralised plant in Brahmapuram.

The unbearable stench from the Vilappilsala plant had triggered public protests earlier, forcing the local bodies to halt dumping at the site on several occasions. The residents living near the now defunct Brahmapuram plant had also complained of foul smell emanating from the plant.

Hundreds of children at the Rajagiri Christu Jayanthi School at Kakanad had recently submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to take immediate corrective measures to check the odour. Local people in Vilappilsala have been up in arms over the environmental pollution caused by the dumpsite. The leachate (the liquid that drain from the waste heaps) from the dumpsite was responsible for the pollution of the Chowalloor stream which joins the Karamana river downstream.

Studies conducted by the State Pollution Control Board had found that leakage of leachate from the solid waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram had contaminated the nearby Kadambrayar. Board sources said that the shortcomings in the construction of the plant could be a major reason for the leakage of leachate from the plant. They also admitted that the site was selected without mandatory assessment as per the Central Pollution Control Board guidelines. Site with high water table and near freshwater sources is not acceptable.

The private group that had set up the Vilappilsala plant had refused to operate the plant citing insufficient supply of waste. Processing of waste at the Brahmapuram plant had also come to a standstill on several occasions, as the private company responsible for operating the plant here also cited a similar reason at the initial stage.

An expert committee of the Kochi Corporation said in 2004 that the total volume of biodegradable waste generated in Kochi would not exceed 100 tonnes per day. It is reliably learnt that the Pollution Control Board is likely to recommend that the Kochi Corporation need not set up a mega compost production plant at Brahmapuram, based on inference that the volume of biodegradable waste generated in the city would not exceed 150 tonnes a day.

The board has also categorically stated that the site could not be turned into a landfill considering the experience of the now-defunct plant and its operational method adopted there.

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