Says Vilappilsala plant cannot be declared shut

The Thiruvananthapuram city Corporation will file a counter affidavit in the High Court if the State government submits a statement claiming that the Vilappilsala waste treatment plant cannot be reopened owing to public protest, Mayor K. Chandrika has said.

She told The Hindu in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday that the fact was that no solid alternative had been proposed so far and the government cannot declare it shut.

“We are not insistent on garbage being taken only to Vilappilsala. But there needs to a viable alternative in place and this needs to be established and it should functioning smoothly for at least a month before declaring it shut,” Ms. Chandrika said.

Councillors, at a meeting on the day, stressed the need for a waste management facility. They said the monsoon had already set in and an epidemic threat was looming large.

Councillors said vested-interest groups were behind the agitation against the garbage treatment plant. “The government could not find or, at least suggest, an alternative in the past 11 months,” Ms. Chandrika said.

Welfare standing committee chairperson Palayam Rajan said the quarry option would not serve any purpose. It would not be a permanent solution, he said. “This is like the platform-filling exercise we did at Kochuveli,” he said.

The Mayor also showed a newspaper article contained in a book on rain-water harvesting published by the Communications and Capacity Development Unit (CCDU) functioning under the Water Resources Department. “This government publication shows the importance of quarries as a source of water. As things are, we face a shortage of water and pollution of waterways,” she said, citing Parvathy Puthanar as an instance. “The government is acting as though it wants to deprive the city of this convenience as well,” she added.

Tax appeals standing committee chairperson P. Syamkumar said this was the only option the government could come up with. “There are micro alternatives such as mobile incinerators and small treatment units. But, these get postponed always,” he said, adding that the specific issues at the plant should be addressed rather than closing the plant abruptly.

Works standing committee chairperson V.S. Padmakumar said, including the land, the Corporation’s investment at Vilappilsala was over Rs.40 crore. “If another plant of this scale was to be set up, on 50 acres, at least Rs.200 crore will be required,” he said.

Some of the councillors said the plan to develop the existing 48 acres at Vilappilsala into a 100-acre waste treatment zone should be implemented.

A good rehabilitation package must be offered to the families displaced, including a living spaces and means of livelihood for at least one member of the family, they said.