The Assembly passed the Kerala Municipality (Amendment) Bill with a few changes on Monday.
The Bill seeks to replace an Ordinance issued for mandating treatment of waste at source and extend the time allowed for member of municipal bodies to file their statement of assets. (Failure to file the statement invites disqualification as corporation or municipal councillors.)
The House adopted an amendment to include fish stalls among the commercial establishments required to process waste at source. The others are shopping centres, hospitals, markets, abattoirs, chicken stalls, halls rented out for marriage receptions, hotels and catering services and flats. Houses with plinth area exceeding 400 square metres too are required to treat waste at source as per an amendment to the Bill adopted by the House. The original provision covered only houses with plinth area exceeding 600 square metres.
Such establishments and homes will be required to engage recognised waste processing agencies by paying the required fee, if they lack sufficient space to process the waste in their premises. Waste water will not be allowed to be let out into water bodies, roads or drains.
The Bill also proposes restriction on sale and use of plastic bags and covers. Plastic will have to be kept separate from other waste for processing. Municipalities are required to set up a fund for waste disposal.
Minister for Urban Affairs and Welfare of Minorities Manjalamkuzhi Ali, who piloted the Bill, said that waste treatment at source was a prime policy of the government. It had already provided subsidy for setting up about 33000 compost units.
He noted that about 70 per cent of the waste in the State was produced by commercial establishments covered under the Bill.
The Bill was reported by the Subject Committee with dissent notes from Opposition members P. Sreemakrishnan (CPI-M), E. K. Vijayan (CPI) and P. T. A. Rahim. They said that there was no need to extend the time for filing of statement of assets permanently. The Bill was also inadequate in addressing the waste management problems of the State.
Participating in the debate, Mr. Ramakrishnan said that comprehensive plan was called for waste processing in the State. This required suitable technology and funds.
Mr. T. A. Ahamed Kabeer (Muslim League) cautioned that the technology for waste processing should be chosen carefully. Mr. V. S. Sunilkumar (CPI) lamented that the public places lacked toilets even for women. Some schools did not even have urinals.