Ariyamangalam people demand shifting of garbage dump to outskirts

The Tiruchirapalli City Corporation Budget announcement on clearing a portion of its sprawling Ariyamangalam dump, to create space for accommodating more garbage from the city, has run into opposition from local residents.

Although the garbage dump is bursting at its seams, with over 12 lakh tonnes of solid waste accumulating down the years, the corporation in its Budget 2013-14 has unveiled a plan to clear about five acres in the northeast corner of the 40-acre dump to create the space for dumping about 400 tonnes of garbage generated in the city every day. The task is estimated to cost the agency Rs. 8 crore.

The move flies in the face of the persistent demands from local residents to shift the garbage dump to the outskirts of the city. Faced with heavy pollution from the mounds of reeking garbage, people living in and around the dump at Ariyamangalam have been campaigning over the past couple of years seeking steps to shift the dump and to remove the accumulated garbage.

The corporation had toyed with various ideas to overcome the problem. 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 failed to take off.

Thousands of residents in the three wards of 7, 28, and 29 have been badly affected by the pollution caused by the garbage dump. Several educational institutions are located around it. Apart from the heavy air pollution, the groundwater in the area is getting polluted . The putrefied garbage attracts a large number of pigs. Many residents are already suffering from wheezing owing to the air and dust pollution from the dump, locals complain.

“We were hoping that the Corporation will at least stop dumping more garbage here and start removing the accumulated garbage gradually. It is shocking that they have decided to go on dumping the city’s everyday garbage collection here,” regretted Rajan, a resident of Mela Ambikapuram.

S.P. Saravanan, a former councillor of Ariyamangalam area who has been campaigning for shifting the dump, questions the decision to spend Rs. 8 crore on this venture when the civic body has presented a Budget with a deficit of Rs. 18 crore. “It is a complete waste of public money. It smacks of neglect of people’s interest,” he said.

The move, he said, went against the Corporation’s assurance given to the residents last year that the dump would be shifted. “Following representations, the Ariyamangalam Assistant Commissioner has given me a reply in September last year assuring that a site will be identified on the outskirts of the city and the garbage dump will be shifted there with the approval of the Corporation Council. We do not know what happened to the assurance,” he said.

The air pollution caused by the dump, he said, was now spreading up to Tiruverumbur, especially as the garbage frequently catches fire due to gaseous emissions.

Mr. Saravanan and a section of local residents suggest that the accumulated garbage could be removed and dumped at the abandoned stone quarries near Thuvakudi and closed properly. “These are huge quarry sites, some of them running to a depth of 200 to 300 feet. They can easily accommodate the accumulated garbage and also take in the garbage collected from the city every day,” Mr. Saravanan said.