An all-party meeting convened at Vilappil panchayat on Monday decided to launch a mass campaign to mobilise funds to move the Supreme Court against the High Court's interim verdict ordering the re-opening of Vilappilsala solid waste treatment plant.
The decision was taken unanimously at the meeting attended by panchayat members and leaders of various political parties at Vilappil. As part of the fund-raising campaign, public meetings will be held in all 20 panchayat wards on February 29. The ward-level campaigns will be headed by respective panchayat members who have been directed to create awareness among the people about the case and to appeal them to contribute generously for fighting the case at the apex court.
The panchayat has identified senior lawyer E.M.S. Anam as counsel to represent its case at the Supreme Court.
“Fighting a case at the Supreme Court will require financial backup. We are fighting this case for the people of Vilappil who, we hope, will help us in raising the funds. We expect to collect around Rs.20 lakh through the mass campaign,'' said Vilappil panchayat vice-president Vinod Raj.
Panchayat president S. Shobhana Kumari said that the panchayat would request its employed residents to contribute one day's salary for the cause.
“We have decided to request government servants, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers, Kudumbasre members and other employed people in our panchayat to contribute their one day's salary. We will also request institutions, entrepreneurs, and businessmen to contribute as per their capacity,'' Ms. Shobhana Kumari said.
She said that the fund collected through the mass campaign would be credited in a joint bank account created in the names of the panchayat president and one representative each of LDF and BJP.
Meanwhile, Vilappil panchayat's High Court advocate V.N. Gopalakrishnan said that the panchayat was confident of winning the appeal at the apex court as the panchayat's stand in the issue was genuine and lawfully validated.
The panchayat would build its case on the fact that the city Corporation neither sought the permission of the panchayat nor of health, environmental or related authorities before setting up the solid waste treatment plant at Vilappilsala.
Violation of laws
“Our constitution mandates that whoever wishes to start an establishment or institution in a place must first seek the permission of the respective local body and then related authorities. In this case, the Corporation did none of this, which is a clear violation of the law,'' Mr. Gopalakrishnan said.
Asked whether the panchayat will contest High Court's observation on seeking the support the Central government and Central forces to resume transportation of garbage to the plant, Mr. Gopalakrishnan said that it could not be contested as it was only an oral observation.
“Mr. Anam is a senior advocate. He is currently studying the case. A lot of legal formalities have to be completed before we file an appeal at the Supreme Court. We have requested the High Court to give us the time and opportunity to appeal before the Supreme Court,'' he said.
The High Court had in its interim verdict issued on January 23 directed the State government to provide police protection to Corporation's trucks transporting garbage to the plant. However, the Corporation's attempt to transport garbage to the plant with police protection was foiled by a mass agitation at Vilappilsala, spearheaded by the panchayat and the Vilappilsala Janakeeya Samithi.