Another special meeting of the Cabinet will be held late Tuesday evening to approve an action plan to achieve total cleanliness in the State.

The proposal is to involve students, voluntary organisations, workers enlisted under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act, and various institutions in achieving better sanitation.

The details would be finalised after discussions at the all-party meeting proposed to be held on Tuesday.

Though the all-party meet was proposed to be held on Monday, it could not be held owing to the inconvenience of the Opposition. Hence, the Cabinet decision on the plan was postponed to Tuesday though it met to approve other proposals to improve sanitation and to prevent outbreak of contagious diseases in the State on Monday.

It decided to upgrade the technology used by city corporations and major municipalities in the State for waste management and launch a year-long campaign from October 2 to free the State of waste and pollution. The campaign would be modeled on the literacy mission, with the objective of creating public awareness about the need for sanitation.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media after the Cabinet meeting that experts, who had examined the outbreak of diseases, had warned of serious problems in the absence of proper waste management. The government had taken the matter seriously and held discussions in the UDF liaison committee and the joint Parliamentary Party on the issue.

The Chief Minister said that elaborate efforts would be undertaken to free lakes, rivers, streams, runnels and ponds from pollution.

Legislation would also be brought to prevent all types of pollution of the environment. Central assistance would be sought for cleaning up all the 44 rivers in the State. Already, Central assistance had been obtained for improving the quality of the Vembanad Lake and Sasthamcotta Lake. Assistance had been sought for cleaning up Ashtamudi Lake.

Mr. Chandy said that effective technology would be introduced to improve solid waste management in the city corporations. The existing waste treatment plans in 29 municipalities would be upgraded. Modern facilities for waste management would be set up in new municipalities.

The grama panchayats would be given 75 per cent of the cost of setting up solid waste management facilities as grant subject to a maximum of Rs. 35 lakh using Central assistance. Local self government would also be given 50 per cent subsidy for setting up e-toilets.

Septage treatment facilities would be established in Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Kollam and Kochi along with the existing sewage treatment plants. Septage treatment plants would be set up in the other 10 other districts also. Disposal of septage through these facilities would be made mandatory and their dumping elsewhere would be banned. The subsidy to individuals for decentralized solid waste management would be increased from 50 to 75 per cent.

The Chief Minister also announced that engineering staff for waste management would be appointed in all city corporations and 30 major municipalities. The posts of assistant engineers would be sanctioned for this. The Sanitation Mission would be strengthened and posts sanctioned for its headquarters and district offices.

The Cabinet had allocated Rs. 64.25 crore for these programmes (excluding that for setting up solid waste management units in panchayats).

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