Local bodies and residents are at odds over various solid waste management projects in the city and its environs. With initiatives such as the Kuthambakkam project under scrutiny, the road ahead seems long
In recent times, key projects related to solid waste management have become subjects of controversy with residents either challenging local bodies or seeking quicker action over the facilities. Matters came to a head on August 14 when the National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench comprising Justice P. Jyothimani and Prof. R. Nagendran clubbed together all cases relating to municipal solid waste management by the urban local bodies (ULCs). In addition to a project of the Chennai Corporation, those of Pallavaram and Tambaram municipalities are under scrutiny by the tribunal.
The Corporation’s proposed facility Kuthambakkam faces stiff opposition from the villagers who are worried the Chembarambakkam lake will be contaminated and the grazing ground lost. In April, R. Arumugam, a resident of Kuthambakkam approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for stalling the project. In response, the Chennai Corporation noted that it was collecting over 4,500 metric tons of garbage per day and its main dumping yards in Kodungaiyur and Perungudi, which have been in use for more than three decades, were almost exhausted. Vikram Kapur, Commissioner, said that “The Corporation is under pressure to seek alternative sites for setting up facilities for processing of wastes and disposal of rejects in scientifically designed sanitary landfill sites as per the specifications laid down in the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000,” and admitted that it was already behind schedule in setting up such facilities.
The Corporation Commissioner’s counter sought the dismissal of the resident’s application as premature and said that the requisite environmental safeguards and approvals for the project will be obtained before the initiation of any construction activities. As of now, neither has any developmental activity been initiated nor any Letter of Award been given to a bidder to establish the facility.
In September 2012, acting on a petition by S.P. Surendranath Karthik, a resident of Ayyappa Nagar, the NGT restrained the Pallavaram Municipality from dumping garbage in the Pallavaram ‘periya eri’(Big Lake). The applicant alleged that the municipality did not have a proper solid waste management plan and its actions had damaged the 300 acre lake. When the matter came up recently, the municipality sought permission to use a portion of a plot in Ganapathipuram temporarily as the modern facility in Venkatamangalam will be ready only in 14 months. The tribunal agreed and also sought a status report regarding the Venkatamangalam project. The application before the tribunal is yet to be disposed of.
Also waiting for the Venkatamangalam project is the Tambaram municipality. A resident of Kannadapalyam, where waste from the municipality area is currently being dumped, approached the tribunal seeking immediate shifting of the dumping to the new facility. The residents alleged that they suffered from respiratory and other diseases as their area was highly polluted.
At the green tribunal last month, Chandrakant B. Kamble, Commissioner of Municipal Administration explained the steps that were taken across the State in handling of solid waste management through ULCs. He said that every proposal of the department was encountering stiff opposition. The tribunal then adjourned the matter for passing the necessary orders that will enable authorities to proceed smoothly with the execution of the projects.
All cases relating to SWM will next be taken up on September 17.
Pdfs of presentations made at Clean Chennai @ Home workshops in Adyar (Sep 7) and Nungambakkam (Sep 8)
Composting by Navneeth Raghavan
Garbage segregation by Navneeth Raghavan
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