For poet B. Sugathakumari, the single most important takeaway from her attempts on Monday to mediate between the government and the people of Vilappisala was this: once politics gets out of the way, a consensus, an understanding is possible on the most vexatious of issues.
It was after many hours of discussions—including about the larger problem of solid waste management in Kerala—with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Urban Affairs Minister Manjalamkuzhi Ali that Ms. Sugathakumari went to Vilappilsala to talk to the agitating political leaders and the people there. She took with her the assurance from the government that no more garbage would be taken from the city to the solid waste facility in the panchayat.
Ms. Sugathakumari was also told by Mr. Ali that the government did not even wish to operate the leachate plant at Vilappil. The government’s argument was that the machinery for the leachate plant was taken into the facility in the dead of the night so that the government would be seen to be complying with the directive of the High Court.
“The Chief Minister and Minister Ali were explicit in stating that they did not want to take any coercive step,” she told The Hindu on Monday night. However, the people of Vilappil wanted more than assurances.
They wanted something in writing. Eventually Ms. Sugathakumari got Mr. Ali to speak to the leaders of the samara samithi on phone. In that conversation Mr. Ali reportedly told the leaders that the government would submit to the court that it could not in anyway operate the treatment plant.
Personally Ms. Sugathakumari is also convinced that an alternative to Vilappilsala has to be found, and without delay. She was reportedly given to understand during her meeting with Mr. Chandy and Mr. Ali that a group of experts would, in three days, submit a report on the quarries that were suitable for depositing garbage. “I was told that the government will move on a war footing to remove the garbage mounds in the city,” she said.
However, for the poet the bottomline on the garbage question is very clear.
“To me the lasting solution is to have treatment plants in each ward of the city Corporation. Where there is no space let there be a plant for two wards. If land needs to be purchased for this, so be it.”
If this is done, there would be no need for Vilappilsalas, she added.