Even after receiving a favourable verdict from the High Court in a case seeking police protection to transport garbage to the Vilappilsala solid waste treatment plant, city mayor K. Chandrika said that the ball was still in the government’s court in resolving the garbage disposal crisis in the city.
The High Court had issued the interim order on Monday on a case filed by the city Corporation. The court also ordered the Vilappil grama panchayat president to immediately reopen the plant which was closed by the panchayat following an agitation on December 21.
Reacting to the verdict Ms Chandrika said that although the Corporation is happy to receive a favourable verdict the onus is still with the state government to reopen the plant and ensure safety of Corporation workers and property there.
"The HC direction is to the government, not the Corporation. This is an interim order for 15 days so the government will now have to take immediate steps. The government should deploy police force to accompany the Corporation trucks transporting garbage to Vilappilsala plant and to protect the workers at the plant. Unless we receive such an assurance or official direction from the government we cannot start taking garbage to Vilappilsala,’’ Ms Chandrika said.
Meanwhile, Vilappil panchayat president Shobhana Kumari said that the panchayat will honour the HC verdict. "However, we have not yet seen the order. Only after we see it and discuss it in detail can we decide on our future programmes. Our demand is still a permanent closure of the plant,’’ she said.
Deputy mayor G. Happykumar said that as soon as the plant was re-opened the main focus of the Corporation will be to address the issues in the plant as pointed out in the reports by the Pollution Control Board and advocate’s commission appointed by the HC.
"The first priority for bringing down the quantity of garbage transported to Vilappilsala. Segregation of plastic waste at source level will be made stricter and transportation of plastic to the plant will be slowly stopped. Implementation of decentralised source-level garbage processing project will also be expedited. By February 28 garbage collection from flats, shops, hotels and other commercial establishments will be stopped,’’ Mr Happykumar said.
"Immediately re-starting works on the leachate treatment plant will also be a top priority once the treatment plant is re-opened,’’ he added.
All construction work inside the plant, including the leachate treatment plant and sanitary landfill, had to be suspended following the closure of the plant. A project official told The Hindu that the main contractors of both the projects had been informed about the court order and asked to re-deploy their staff at the plant immediately.
"All labourers inside the plant were disbursed by the contractors after the plant was closed down indefinitely. Mobilising labour once again will be time consuming task for the contractors who have already left the city. For both the leachate treatment plant and sanitary land fill project we need skilled labourers from outside the state,’’ the official said.
The leachate treatment plant and sanitary landfill are being constructed by Pune based Mailhem Engineers Pvt Ltd and Jamshedpur-based JUSCO (Jameshedpur Utilities and Services Company Ltd), respectively. Both the works are funded by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) project. The implementation of the works is supervised by the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP).