Pupils of the Mandal Praja Parishad primary school at Achayyapeta have found some new “toys” to play with. During the recess and after school , the boys and girls run to the garbage dumps less than 350 meters away and search and pick up used injection syringes and IV fluid sets and start playing by filling them up with water.

Their parents, mostly away from the village rearing sheep or working on fields, are genuinely worried about the children contracting diseases. For the villagers, who are fighting all out to stop the Anakapalle Municipality from dumping the town’s garbage in their village, the threat to their children’s health appears to be the immediate major problem even as they wait for the High Court to give them a favourable verdict. The medical waste is part of garbage forcibly dumped on a site allotted to the municipality as a dumping yard on March 20 after chasing away the protesting villagers and arresting 20 of them.

People of Achayyapeta, the adjacent Sundarayyapeta, the gram Panchayat under which it falls, Vetta Jangalapalem, China Sampathipuram and other villages are frustrated and angry that the municipality and the State government are bent on dumping the garbage in the village. The High Court granted an interim stay on dumping and wanted the municipality to reply to a few issues raised by it. Though the local Tahsildar allotted the 22.8 acre site in the village to the municipality it has not obtained the consent of the Gram Panchayat or the AP Pollution Control Board. The villagers also pointed out a municipality cannot dump its garbage outside its limits.

The site allotted to the dumping yard has four check- dams, constructed by the District Water Management Agency, to tap and regulate the flow from several streams from the nearby hillocks. The water is directed to the Mondipalem and Yerracheruvu tanks under which there is nearly a 100 acre ayacut. The stream that takes water to the two tanks ultimately joins the Sarada, which flows besides Anakapalle town. The garbage is dumped very near the check-dams and if the municipality has its way and more garbage is dumped, the stream would get contaminated and the polluted water would reach the Sarada, the villagers said.

“If there is spell of heavy rain the garbage will also be carried along the stream and reach the river and might get deposited near Anakapalle and beyond”, Baliboyina Ramu, a farmer, and Eggada Bhaskara Rao, convenor of all-party people’s organisations pointed out. Even if the municipality constructs walls along the stream and near the check-dams, first the water flow from hill streams will stop and if there is heavy rain, the walls will collapse under the pressure of water flowing from the hills, the local farmers said.

A visit to the dumping yard reveals that it is just 350 meters away from Achayyapeta and 550 meters from Veta Jangalapalem village, proving wrong the municipality’s version that there was no habitation nearby. There are cashew nut groves all around. Farmers are cultivating the land and the DWMA itself said, in response to an RTI Act petition that the check- dams were constructed to protect groundwater, improve water availability and provide other benefits, points out general secretary of AP Vyavasaya Vrittidarula Union P.S. Ajay Kumar.

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