People living in houses with little or no compound space are most hit by garbage crisis

While the city Corporation and State government are engaged in a tug of war over the pipe compost project, people living in compact spaces in the city are caught between dealing with stinking garbage at home or inviting fine for disposal of the waste in public places.

Among the worst affected are families living in ‘Agraharams’ in the densely populated Fort and Karamana areas of the city.

With no compound or private space outside their houses, people living in the clusters have no option but to leave the waste in available public space, which has become a punishable offence with the imposition of prohibitory order by the District Collector.

“We are all law abiding citizens and we hate to break the rules or aggravate the public sanitation crisis. But we have no other option to dispose of the waste,” said H. Ganesh, secretary of Third Puthen Street Residents’ Association.

“Until a few days ago, Corporation workers used to come and remove the waste from these common points. But now that also has stopped. All we can do is ensure that the waste disposed of in open spaces is not left to rot and is promptly burnt. But that has also become difficult with the onset of rain,” Mr. Ganesh said. Since these houses open directly to the public road, installing pipe composts is also not feasible for most of the Agraharams.

“There are nearly 1,000 families living in Agraharams in the Fort area alone, and all of them are forced to dispose of waste in open public spaces. There is a serious threat of disease outbreak in our area, as the menace of mosquitoes and rodents is only increasing day by day. The Corporation and Health Departments should consider our problem as a special case and come out with some plan to deal with the waste management crisis here,” said P. Balasubrahmanian, a resident of First Puthen Street.

The councillors in these wards also agree that these families are caught in a catch 22 situation. “We know that this is a delicate situation, but we are also helpless. From my side, I am trying to ensure regular fogging in this area to prevent vector borne diseases,” said Fort ward councillor S. Udayalakshmi.

It is not just residents of Agraharams, families living in houses with little or no compound space in other parts of the city are also at the receiving end of the garbage crisis.

A few days ago, a family at Thirumala found its bike confiscated by Corporation health officials when it tried to dispose of household waste at a point near the Thirumala junction.

“We know that what we did was wrong and we are willing to remit the fine. But the Corporation authorities should also tell us how to dispose of waste from now on,” a woman from the family said.

“We live in a rented house, which has a very small compound. For the last several months, we resorted to digging waste within this compound. However, last week our house owner, who stays downstairs, objected to this, as big worms were coming out of these garbage pits. For over two days, we kept the waste within our house. When the stench became unbearable, my husband decided to dispose it at a waste dumping point. That is when our vehicle was confiscated,’’ she said.

She added although the family had applied and paid full amount for pipe compost, it has not been installed so far.

In response to people’s concern, Corporation health officer D. Sreekumar said the local body was scouting for free space in Fort and Karamana wards to install biogas plants to address the waste disposal issue faced by the residents there.