All the political parties and the State have let down the residents of Vilappilsala who have been running an agitation to get the garbage treatment plant there closed, the functionaries of the Vilappilsala Janakeeya Samiti have alleged.
Mr. Burhanudeen, president of the Samiti and Mr. Benatson, its secretary, told The Hindu that during their long struggle all the mainline political parties who had at various times offered them support had later ditched them. The State government itself which had issued an order to close down the garbage plant had backtracked, they said.
“We have come to realise that no political party could be trusted with the people's causes,” Mr. Burhanudeen said. “So, we have decided that with or without political parties' support the suffering people of Vilappilsala and nearby villages will carry the agitation through until we achieve our objective.”
He noted that the residents of Vilappilsala have for the past 415 days been sitting in relay hunger strike and resisting the garbage trucks from Thiruvananthapuram for the 69th day on Monday. “We don't need the political parties' or the government's charity to gain out goal,” Mr. Benatson said.
They are sore that the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation is adamant that the solid waste generated by the city be dumped at Vilappilsala. “They secured a court order to dump the garbage in our midst with police force, but our women and children prevented the trucks from entering the village,” Mr. Burhanudeen said. “Come what may, we will not allow the garbage trucks to enter our village even if they deploy Central Reserve Police Force. We are all ready to lay down our lives, but we will not allow our village to continue as a dumping ground for the city's garbage.”
They said the dumping of waste over the past decade had contaminated the water sources and air in Vilappil panchayat as well as nearby areas, including the Karamanayar river. The poisonous chemicals used to contain flees and other insects had caused severe lung and skin diseases among the Vilappil residents. The two alleged that the private company ran the plant until 2008, the Thiruvananthapuram city corporation and the Stage Government had all duped the Vilappil people right from the land acquisition for the plant. “Initially, they said the land acquisition was for raising a herbarium, then they said it was for building the largest factory in Asia,” Mr. Burhanudeen said. “This was to make people believe that they would get jobs there and to forestall any opposition to building a garbage plant.”
They said the residents of Vilappilsala had given enough time for the government to act. “Our patience has run out, our people are suffering,” Mr. Benatson said. “We have only one demand: just shut the plant down for ever.”