It is hotter in Kodungaiyur than in the rest of the city. With garbage in the Chennai Corporation's dumping yard being burnt almost round-the-clock, residents have been constantly complaining of dust allergies, skin and eye irritation and the excessive heat.
“We have been sending complaint after complaint to the Chennai Corporation and various government officials. But nothing seems to move them. The civic body just says that it is the rag pickers who set the garbage afire. When there are security guards and a compound wall around the place, how can rag pickers get in,” asked Nagaratna, a resident.
On Thursday afternoon too one could see smoke rising from the smouldering mounds. Residents of Rajarathinam Nagar, the Slum Board tenements situated bang opposite the dumping yard, alleged that the Corporation was burning garbage in the front itself.
“They have run out of space to dump the additional garbage that they are getting from the newly-added wards. They are only passing the blame onto the rag pickers. The burning is happening despite a Madras High Court order directing the Corporation not to burn garbage,” said Umapathy, a resident.
Paramanandam, a resident, said that the Corporation should have taken the effort to identify locations to dump or process garbage before it was expanded. “There is nobody to put out the fires. The Corporation should at least have fire fighting facilities at the dumping yard and install security cameras on the compound wall,” he said.
Mayor Saidai S Duraisamy stoutly denied that the Corporation was setting afire the garbage. “It is the handy work of around a few persons involved collecting iron, metal and other scrap. They burn garbage at night. It is a huge facility… 400 acres of land and we are unable to monitor the area. We have filed complaints with the police asking them to take action on those setting fire to the garbage,” he said. He urged the locals to also help in catching people who are responsible for burning garbage.
Corporation Commissioner D.Karthikeyan said that the call for tenders floated for setting up an integrated solid waste management facility the civic body had received 31 responses including those from international companies. “We are soon going to finalise the tenders and redeem the lands that are presently being used to dump garbage,” he said.