Choked by pollution residents’ demand for shifting dump grows

Faced with heavy pollution from the massive mounds of reeking garbage, people living in and around the corporation garbage dump at Ariyamangalam on the outskirts of the city have stepped up their campaign seeking an end to their predicament.

With an estimated 12 lakh tonnes of garbage accumulated down the years and about 400 tonnes more added to it every day, the garbage dump literally presents a gargantuan problem to the local residents and civic body as well. Residents of the locality are now demanding the shifting of the garbage dump and the removal of accumulated garbage as ‘living conditions are turning increasingly intolerable.’

The garbage dump, spread over 45 acres, is fast turning a health hazard. Though a few years ago, the corporation toyed with various ideas, nothing has come out of them.

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 has also failed to take off.

Shifting the garbage is virtually ruled out, given the practical difficulties in transporting the colossal accumulation.

But local residents say that the corporation should at least stop dumping more garbage into the dump every day and gradually remove the accumulated garbage at Ariyamangalam.

In a petition submitted to the Collector and Mayor last week on behalf of Samudhaya Sevai Sangam, S.P.Saravanan, a former corporation councillor and residents, suggested that the corporation dump its everyday garbage collection at the abandoned stone quarries in the Thuvakudi area.

“Thousands of residents in wards 7, 28 and 29 have been badly affected by the pollution caused by the garbage dump. The ground water in the area is also polluted, besides the air pollution. Putrefied garbage, with pigs breeding on them, poses a major health hazard to residents. Children are being affected,” said Mr.Saravanan.

Residents in Keezha Ambikapuram, Mela Ambikapuram, Nehruji Nagar, Kamarajar Nagar and Anna Nagar are among those affected.

The corporation has also built an overhead water tank, under the new water scheme, within the garbage dump, raising questions about the quality of the drinking water that is to be supplied from it.

“A minor seepage in the pipeline will be enough to contaminate the water,” Mr.Saravanan said.

He also pointed out that a toilet constructed in the dump has been lying in disuse and has only become a refuge for pigs.

Locals also pointed out that several educational institutions around it and the compound wall of the dump actually abuts a school.

K.Anandan, a retired BHEL employee who resides at Muneeswaran Koil Street, just about 100 feet away from the dump, said that many residents were already suffering from wheezing owing to the air and dust pollution from the dump.

“My wife too has been afflicted by wheezing. We have been forced to live in unhygienic surroundings as the mounds have grown to a height of a two-storeyed building. A putrid odour hangs over the air and vultures prey on the wastes from the meat and fish markets,” he said.

Residents complain that they are forced to temporarily shift out of their homes whenever the garbage catches fire, sending clouds of smoke.

The locals have been petitioning the authorities seeking the shifting of the dump for long. “There was a move to shift the dump but nothing has out of it. Nobody seems to bother now,” said Mr.Anandan.

Mr.Saravanan said they would chalk out an agitation plan to press their demand.