Minister to hold talks with Corporation, Samithi

Minister for Urban Affairs P.K. Kunhalikutty will convene another round of discussions with the city Corporation and the Vilappilsala Janakeeya Samithi on Friday in a bid to resolve the issue relating to the operation of the solid waste treatment plant at Vilappilsala.

This will be the second meeting in less than a week being held at the ministerial level to address the issue, which is snowballing into a crisis with the Janakeeya Samithi firming up its stand. The Samithi is preparing to launch a major agitation at Vilappilsala by blocking movement of garbage trucks to the plant from September 18.

At the last meeting, convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the State government had proposed decentralisation of the garbage processing mechanism in the city and gradual phasing out of the plant. However, the Samithi wants an immediate shutdown of the plant.

“If the meeting on Friday fails to reach a consensus, we will block the garbage trucks from entering the plant,” said Samithi president S. Burhan.

Around 240 tonnes of garbage is transported daily from the city to the 46-acre plant, which has capacity of only 150 tonnes.

The Janakeeya Samithi alleged that the 11-year-old garbage treatment plant had caused serious health and environmental issues in Vilappilsala and surrounding panchayats, including contamination of ground water and pollution of the Karamana river.

Mayor K. Chandrika said though the Corporation was aware of the fact that the plant had surpassed its capacity, an immediate shutdown was not possible.

“It is simply not possible for the State government or the Corporation to shut down the waste treatment plant. As of now, we need this plant. All we can do is reduce the quantity of garbage being taken to Vilappilsala and decentralise the garbage treatment mechanism in the city,'' she said.

“This is the first such garbage treatment plant in the State. Both the State and the Union governments have spent crores of rupees on the plant. The ongoing modernisation works, which include the construction of a leachate treatment plant, will solve most of the issues. Meanwhile, we have also initiated efforts to start mini-treatment plants in different parts of the city as part of decentralising garbage processing,'' Ms. Chandrika said.

The Mayor added that the Corporation had already written to the State government and the City Police Commissioner seeking protection for its staff and property.