Fear that the corporation could use the spot at Panchapur on a regular basis

The recent move by Tiruchi Corporation to dump a portion of the garbage collected from the city near its sewage treatment farm at Panchapur off Tiruchi-Madurai National Highway has triggered unease among residents in the backward locality. Although sources in the corporation say that only solid waste such as empty tyres and discarded containers collected during the recent mosquito source reduction drive conducted as part of the dengue awareness campaign is being dumped into a landfill at Panchapur, local residents are apprehensive that the civic body could make it a regular practice.

Their fear does not seem to be entirely unfounded. Apart from a huge pit, mounds of garbage could be seen dumped adjacent to the sewage treatment plant. Sources in the civic body maintain that some quantum of garbage was dumped at the site some months ago only as a temporary measure. Garbage is not being dumped there now, they say. However, there are clear indications that the corporation is facing a problem as its Ariyamangalam garbage dump on the Thanjavur road is close to reaching its full capacity.

With over 12 lakh tonnes of garbage accumulated down the years and about 450 tonnes added to it every day, the garbage dump at Ariyamangalam, spread over about 45 acres, has been literally bursting at its seams. Over the past few years, residents of the locality have been demanding shifting of the garbage dump and removal of accumulated garbage as ‘living conditions are turning increasingly intolerable’ owing to pollution caused by it.

A proposal to go in for ‘scientific closure’ of the accumulated garbage by converting them into green hillocks on the lines of a project executed in Coimbatore is yet to be executed. Shifting the garbage is virtually ruled out, given the practical difficulties in transporting the colossal accumulation. The corporation has been implementing a project to convert the accumulated garbage into bio manure. The civic body is now planning to “compact” the accumulated garbage to create some space at the dump.

Given the increasing resistance from locals, the civic body will have to take a decision sooner than later. According to the sources, the corporation is toying with the idea of dumping solid waste generated from two of the four zones in the city at Panchapur. But the move seems to have been put on hold.

The issue has already echoed at the corporation council with N.Kathiravan, representing ward 39, and T.Muthuselvam of ward 40 registering strong opposition to the move to dump solid waste at Panchapur.

The councillors and locals complain of squalor and poor sanitary conditions in the Panchapur area owing to the presence of the sewage treatment farm. Sewage from the farm is also overflowing into adjacent areas leading to pollution. “The locality is home to a large number of low income group families and they are already facing a health hazard. The corporation should explore alternative ways for proper disposal of its solid waste instead of dumping it at Panchapur,” said a local resident.