The State government's efforts to resolve the issue surrounding the Vilappilsala solid-waste treatment plant got further hampered on Thursday after the Vilappil panchayat decided to stick to its stand that clay and machinery will not be allowed into the plant until an assurance on permanent closure of the plant was given.
Following the recent Supreme Court directive to reopen the plant, Urban Affairs Minister Manjalamkuzhi Ali had requested Vilappil panchayat representatives to facilitate transportation of clay and machinery to the plant in order to complete the work on a leachate treatment unit and sanitary landfill inside the plant.
However, an all-party meeting held at Vilappil panchayat on Thursday decided not to comply with the State government's request until the government made a final decision to shut down the plant.
“We want the government to stick to the assurance given to us by Chief Minister Ommen Chandy on December 21, 2011, regarding the permanent closure of the plant. Until then we cannot allow anything from the city, be it garbage, clay, or machinery, to enter the plant,” Vilappil panchayat president S. Shobhana Kumari said, talking to reporters after the meeting.
She said that even though the panchayat wanted the City Corporation and State government to immediately dispose of the accumulated garbage inside the treatment plant, construction work on the leachate treatment unit and sanitary landfill could be resumed only after the decision to close down the plant was finalised by the government. “The panchayat will also ask the State government to take over the Vilappilsala plant from the Corporation,” she said.
Asked what the panchayat would do if the government used force to reopen the plant as per the court directive, she said the panchayat would only stand by people.
Earlier, addressing the all-party delegation, Ms Shobhana Kumari said the Vilappilsala Janakeeya Samithi, which was spearheading the public agitation against the plant, was trying to cast a slur on the panchayat following the unfavourable directive from the Supreme Court.
“They are propagating lies among people and blaming us for going to the Supreme Court. But the panchayat never took any decision unilaterally. We had convened a similar all-party meeting before the filing of petition at the Supreme Court,” she said.
Panchayat vice-president Vinod Raj, panchayat secretary S. Aravindakshan, standing committee chairpersons, and local leaders of various political parties participated in the meeting. The meeting briefly witnessed a heated exchange of words between the ruling UDF and the opposition BJP members after the latter accused that the panchayat was unable to convince the government regarding the plight of Vilappilsala residents.
Ms. Shobhana Kumari, however, said the final decision to demand a permanent closure of the plant was taken unanimously.
“On Friday we will communicate our decision to the Urban Affairs Minister,” Ms. Shobhana Kumari said.