The Kerala State Pollution Control Board submitted before the High Court (HC) on Wednesday that the total functional capacity of the biodegradable waste processing plant at the Vilappilsala solid waste treatment plant was only 90 tons per day, a far cry from the quantity of waste actually transported to the plant daily.

According to the report submitted by the Pollution Control Board (PCB), the average quantity of waste reaching the 46 acre plant daily, until it was shut down on December 21, 2011, was around 203 tonnes, more than twice its functional capacity.

The PCB environmental engineer K.R. Santhoshkumar filed the report at the HC following his visit and verification of the facilities at the Vilappilsala plant as per the direction of HC. Mr Santhoshkumar had accompanied Adv K. Meera, the advocate commission appointed by the HC, on January 14 to inspect the plant.

Apart from bringing down the quantity of waste 90 tonnes, the report further observed that leachate flowing from two uncapped landfills inside the plant frequently reached the Karamana River through the Meenambally canal, causing river water pollution. Although the leachate is collected in temporary ponds and disposed after adding alum, lime and bleaching powder, these temporary measures were inadequate to check the pollution caused by the leachate.

The PCB has in its report directed the Corporation to commission the permanent leachate treatment plant under construction inside the plant within 60 days. The Board has also recommended the construction of a dike between the landfills and the stream to prevent escape of leachate to river.

In order to control the odour emanating from the windrow composts in the plant, the PCB has recommended frequent turning of windrows or providing forced aeration. As of now the windrows are only turned every five days. Another recommendation to combat the odour problem is to sufficiently ventilate the plant area by providing adequate number of air blowers and biofilters.

The PCB report also makes a set of recommendations for maintaining the general hygienic conditions inside the plant. Providing a 100 meter buffer zone around the periphery of the plant is among these. Ensuring source level segregation of plastic and biodegradable waste and transporting garbage to the plant through closed vehicles with leachate collection facility are among the other recommendations.

The PCB report has directed the Corporation to complete all the recommended modifications at the Vilappilsala plant within 60 days.