Cholera outbreak in city triggers decision

In the face of an acute lack of space to bury solid waste in the capital city, the State government has decided to revive the proposal for depositing garbage in abandoned quarries in and around the city.

This decision was taken at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy here on Monday. The meeting resolved to drain the quarries, which have been identified for this purpose, as soon as possible. According to sources in the government, a list of nearly 20 such quarries was read out at the meeting.

Though the government had, some months ago, seriously considered using abandoned quarries to deposit garbage following the waste-management crisis faced by capital city, the scheme was put on the backburner following strong protests from people living near the quarries shortlisted for this purpose.

Once the quarries are free of water, they would be ‘prepared’ to receive solid waste. These preparatory measures include lining these quarries with sheets of high density polyethylene to prevent any seepage of leachate from the garbage into ground water sources in the area.

Protests likely

“The government’s decision appears to have been prompted by the outbreak of cholera and the 1,900-plus cases of dengue fever reported from government hospitals alone,” K. Muraleedharan, MLA, who participated in the meeting told The Hindu. The scenario of public protests against dumping of waste in quarries was also discussed at the meeting. “I told them that we as people’s representatives can try to make local people understand the gravity of the garbage situation and try and bring them round to agreeing to the proposal. There is bound to be strong reaction from the people,” he said.

Mayor K. Chandrika, who was also present at the meeting, confirmed to The Hindu the government’s move to revive the quarry proposal. “I am very sure that action councils will spring up all over the place. But then, as far as the Corporation is concerned any place that the government points out for dumping waste is fine. Our job is to load our trucks and reach garbage to wherever the government decides. All the same, option number one for me will always be the reopening of the Vilappilsala plant,” she said.

Minister for Urban Affairs Manjalamkuzhy Ali when contacted declined to comment on Monday’s meeting. “I will not say anything today. I will address the media on Tuesday,” he added.