LDF councillors ‘mourn’ mobile incinerator, seek probe

The mobile incinerator came rolling in from Gujarat in November last year, promising respite from the waste management crisis plaguing the city since December 2011 when the Vilappilsala solid waste treatment was shut down.

On Sunday, Left Democratic Front (LDF) councillors of the city Corporation placed floral wreaths on the machine, lying idle at Anayara in Thiruvananthapuram, sealing its funereal look. The councillors sought a Vigilance inquiry into the viability of its purchase and operation by the State government.

“It has been lying defunct for more than a month. Matters regarding payment for the machine and the funds required to supply diesel are all fraught with discrepancies,” said works standing committee chairman of the Corporation V.S. Padmakumar, who participated in the protest against the machine, procured at cost of Rs.2.19 crore.

“Even while it was functioning, it consumed quite a lot of fuel, but did not burn sufficient garbage to justify the expense. To make a difference, it needs to burn at the rate of eight tonnes a day, a figure that was initially promised by the company. It barely processed two,” added Mr. Padmakumar

A cloud of ambiguities over the incinerator’s functioning forced it to grind to a complete halt last month. These uncertainties are set to be cleared very shortly, according to senior officials of the Suchitwa Mission. For one, the company from which it was bought, Chintan Sales, had not received the balance amount for the purchase of the machine and operations and maintenance fee from the government.

“The amount is still being withheld as the recommendations made by the technical committee that evaluated its functioning twice are yet to be implemented. They may have fulfilled the specifications outlined in the tender but that does not exempt them from making the modifications required by the client. The decision will be taken by the government,” a Suchitwa Mission official said.

Who will operate and take up maintenance of the machine is still unclear. “All decisions will be taken within a week,” the official said.

He added that the non-issue of Pollution Control Board sanction was raised earlier, but insisted that this was no hurdle as the machine was purchased because of the emission standards it guaranteed.