Janakiya Samithi to block garbage trucks from Wednesday

With agitators at Villappilsala declaring that they will not allow garbage-laden trucks from the capital city to cross the panchayat limits from December 21 and that they are in no mood to grant the government or the City Corporation any more time to shut down the garbage treatment plant there, the long-drawn out agitation against the plant seems to be nearing a flashpoint.

Local people had been angry at what they deemed ‘wilful delay tactics' on part of the Corporation and the government. The leader of the Janakiya Samithi at Vilappil, S. Burhan, told The Hindu that the people of the panchayat still believed that the ‘assurance' given by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy that the plant would be closed down by December 20.

“We will continue to believe in the Chief Minister's words till December 20. After that garbage trucks from the city will not be able to come into the Vilappil panchayat. Only if the trucks are able to come here would we have to block them,” he said.

It would be inhuman on part of the government to seek more time, Mr. Burhan pointed out. The people of Vilappil are only asking to be treated as human beings, he said. “They are in no mood to suffer any longer the stench from the plant, the polluted water sources, and various diseases. Just look at the kind of protests that took place when the Corporation wanted to set up decentralised waste treatment facilities in the city. So, all the waste should come here,” he said.

The government maintained that it was doing all it could to solve the problem at Vilappilsala and the solid waste treatment issue in the State in general. Mr. Chandy told The Hindu that the government was working at a furious pace to solve the issue. “The people there have no reason to suspect the intentions of the government on this matter. We are fully aware of their problems and we empathise with them,” he said.

An alternative to the existing plant at Vilappil was, even by charitable estimates, many months away. The next meeting of the cabinet — a senior official told The Hindu on Saturday — would discuss and was expected to clear the floating of tenders for setting up three modular garbage treatment plants which would operate on non-polluting technology. The tenders were expected to be advertised next week itself and about two months would be required subsequently as ‘search time' for the appropriate company which would set up and run the plants on a private-public participation mode. The government had already received proposals which indicated that such plants could be set up in three to 12 months. “We would go in for the firm which can set up the plants in the shortest possible time,” the official said and added that Mr. Chandy was scheduled to hold talks with the agitators shortly.