Citizens plan to go on fast to draw government’s attention

With the fire at the corporation garbage dump at Ariyamangalam refusing to die down, residents in the area have decided to observe a fast in the first week of July to draw the State’s government attention to their plight.

Billowing smoke from the dump, which caught fire on June 15, continued to suffocate thousands of residents living around the dump for the eighth consecutive day on Sunday.

Although the fire at the 47-acre dump was brought under control by Fire and Rescue Service personnel and the corporation staff by Tuesday, it turned out to be a temporary relief. Aided by the strong wind, the smouldering embers continued to escalate again since Friday. On Sunday, the fire was ravaging mounds of garbage in a part of the yard spewing clouds of white smoke.

Irate residents, who staged a protest on Tuesday, held a consultative meeting at Ambikapuram on Sunday to discuss their future course of action in the light of promises held out by the corporation to find a remedy to the problem.

The meeting was organised by Environment Care Society, a forum floated to fight for the cause, and attended by residents of different colonies in the locality.

Mr. Saravanan, society president, told the residents that the corporation, in the minutes of the peace talks held last week after the residents protested, had committed to take steps at a cost of Rs. 6 crore to prevent the fires and outlined a series of long-term measures such as bio-capping of the accumulated garbage, creation of an additional solid waste processing facility at Panchapur, and creating biomethanation plants at the zonal level in the city.

Residents, however, expressed concern that the civic body had not given any commitment on stopping dumping of garbage at the yard. The corporation has to stop dumping more garbage within a specific time frame, speakers demanded. They pointed out that funds had not yet been sanctioned for the long-term measures planned. When the city was a municipality the dump was set up at Ariyamangalam as it was then considered to be the outskirts. But the locality was much part of the city now and the dump could not exist within a residential area, the residents argued.

“We have to stand united and continue peaceful means of agitation to highlight our main demand of shifting the dump,” said James, one of the participants.

The residents decided to closely monitor the action taken by the civic body to fulfil the promises and observe a fast in the first week of July to bring the problem to the notice of the State government.