The State Cabinet on Monday decided to upgrade the technology used by City Corporations and major municipalities in the State for waste management in a bid to prevent outbreak of contagious diseases. A special meeting of the Cabinet convened to discuss the outbreak of leptospirosis and hepatitis in the State also decided on a year-long campaign from October 2 to free the State of waste and pollution. The campaign would be modelled on the Literacy Mission, with the objective of creating public awareness on the need for sanitation. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media after the Cabinet meeting that experts, who had examined the outbreak of diseases, had warned of serious problems if waste management was not done properly. The government had taken the matter seriously and held discussions in the United Democratic Front (UDF) liaison committee and the Joint Parliamentary Party on the issue. The Chief Minister said elaborate efforts would be undertaken to free lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds from pollution. Legislation would also be brought to prevent all types of pollution of the environment. Central assistance would be sought for cleaning up all the 44 rivers in the State. Already, Central assistance had been obtained for improving the quality of the Vembanad and Sasthamcotta lakes. Assistance had been sought for cleaning up the Ashtamudi lake. Mr. Chandy said effective technology would be introduced to improve solid waste management in the City Corporations.  The existing waste treatment plants in 29 municipalities would be upgraded. Modern facilities for waste management would be set up in new municipalities. The grama panchayats would be given 75 per cent of the cost of setting up solid waste management facilities as grant, subject to a maximum of Rs.35 lakh using Central assistance. Local self-government institutions would also be given 50 per cent subsidy for setting up e-toilets. Septage treatment facilities would be established in Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Kollam, and Kochi along with the existing sewage treatment plants. Septage treatment plants would be set up in the other 10 other districts also. Disposal of septage through these facilities would be made mandatory and their dumping elsewhere would be banned. The subsidy to individuals for decentralised solid waste management would be increased from 50 to 75 per cent. The Chief Minister also announced that engineering staff for waste management would be appointed in all City Corporations and 30 major municipalities. The posts of Assistant Engineers would be sanctioned for this. The Sanitation Mission would be strengthened and posts sanctioned for its headquarters and district offices. The Cabinet had allotted Rs.64.25 crore for these programmes.

Keywords: Waste disposal