Vilappil panchayat authorities close down garbage treatment plant

With the Vilappil panchayat shutting down the controversial solid waste treatment plant at Vilappilsala on Wednesday, the Thiruvananthapuram city Corporation has been left staring a garbage disposal crisis in the face.

A meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to resolve the crisis on Wednesday brought no respite for the Corporation, with representatives of the Vilappil panchayat and the Vilappilsala Janakeeya Samithi refusing to budge from their stand, seeking a total closure of the plant.

Although the State government and the Corporation proposed to draw up a permanent solution for issues related to the plant within three months, the agitators and the Vilappil panchayat officials refused to buy the proposal. They maintained that the plant had been shut down for good, and would not be reopened at any cost. They said no garbage trucks from the city would be allowed to enter the panchayat.

Minister for Urban Affairs P.K. Kunhalikutty, Minister for Transport V.S. Sivakumar, and V. Sivankutty, MLA, were present at the meeting.

Members of the Vilappilsala Janakeeya Samithi and the Vilappilsala Solidarity Forum walked out of the meeting, raising slogans, after the government refused to accept their demands, including provision of financial aid for treatment of people affected by the pollution caused by the plant. The agitators also demanded that authorities immediately do away with the accumulated garbage at the plant.

Government officials, meanwhile, said that in the past three months, since the meeting convened by Mr. Chandy on September 20, the State government had identified alternative technologies and land for shifting the garbage treatment plant from Vilappilsala. However, another three months would be required to completely stop the functioning of the plant. The government had also consented to dispose of the accumulated garbage at the plant within the stipulated time.

“The panchayat is willing to accept all the proposals put forth by the State government only if it promises that not a single load of garbage will be taken to the plant anymore. The Vilappilsala garbage plant has been shut down, and we cannot accept any proposal to open it again,” Vilappil panchayat president Shobhana Kumari said. Vilappilsala Janakeeya Samithi convener S. Burhan said the Samithi, along with the people of Vilappil, would block garbage vehicles from the city from Wednesday.

City Mayor K. Chandrika said the Corporation would not collect garbage from the city as long as a solution was not reached on the issue. “We are not ready for a stand-off with the people of Vilappil. We will accept whatever the government decides,” she said.