Forcible shutting down of solid waste treatment plant

The City Corporation Council, which met here on Thursday, decided to initiate legal action against Vilappil panchayat for forcibly shutting down the Vilappilsala solid waste treatment plant of the Corporation.

Councillors, cutting across party lines, condemned Vilappil panchayat's action stating that panchayat president Shobhana Kumari had no right to confiscate property and machinery that belonged to the Corporation.

Mayor K. Chandrika said in spite of the requests of the city Corporation and the State government, representatives of the Vilappil panchayat and Vilappilsala Janakeeya Samithi had taken a provocative stand at the conciliatory meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy recently. “The attitude of the agitators and panchayat representatives has been very defiant. Instead of resolving the crisis amicably, they have taken a militant stand and have instigated the people of Vilappil against the Corporation,'' Ms. Chandrika told the council.

Poojappura councillor Maheshwaran Nair said apart from filing a case against Vilappil panchayat, the Corporation should also request the State government to investigate the involvement of external agencies and the land lobby in the agitation against the waste treatment plant. “The plant, the property on which it is built, and all the machinery belong to the Corporation. The Vilappil panchayat has no right to shut down the plant,” he said.

Several other councillors, including UDF council party leader Johnson Joseph, Ponnumangalam councillor M.R. Gopakumar, Chandavila councillor Mohanan Nair, Palayam councillor Palayam Rajan and Thampanoor councillor Thampanoor Hari, condemned the closure of the plant and alleged involvement of the land lobby in the agitation.

While most councillors pointed out the need to immediately find an alternative solution to the garbage disposal crisis in the city, Vizhinjam councillor Gladis Alex and Harbour councillor K.H. Sudheer Khan said they were against the plan to set up regional-level waste treatment plants at Vizhinjam.

“From what we learnt from media reports, Vizhinjam is one of the three places identified by the State government to set up waste treatment plants. Although we have agreed on setting up ward-level plants, we are not ready to take the garbage burden of the entire city and become another Vilappilsala,” Ms. Gladis said. The Mayor replied that the Corporation had not taken a decision to set up any such plants at Vizhinjam. Sreekaryam councillor B. Vijayakumar alleged that the Corporation was still relying on hollow promises even in the wake of a serious crisis.

Valiathura councillor Tony Oliver said the source-level waste treatment project had been successfully implemented in his ward. The council witnessed heated exchange of words after Ambalathara councillor Mujeeb Rehman alleged that BJP councillors were adopting double-standards on the issue.

Mr. Rehman alleged that while the BJP councillors were against the closure of the solid waste treatment plant, a BJP State committee leader had publicly taken a stand in favour of the agitation at Vilappilsala.