As the issue of disrupted waste collection and disposal of the Kannur municipality following the agitation by local residents against the municipality’s waste dump in the nearby Chelora panchayat continues without any solution in sight, the municipality’s alleged attempt to send its garbage vehicles in the early hours of Tuesday sparked off protest after a local action committee functionary was injured allegedly when the vehicle tried to enter the waste yard in defiance of the protest outside.

K.K. Madhu (51), a functionary of the action committee launching the agitation against the dump, has been admitted to the AKG Hospital here with injuries in his hand. The police said that he suffered injuries when he fell off the chairs he was sleeping on when he woke up in a hurry after hearing the sound of the garbage vehicle trying to enter the dump at around 5 a.m. The action committee alleged that the municipality’s action of sending the garbage vehicle at odd hours when the protest by the residents against waste dumping in the area was going on showed the municipal authorities’ insensitivity to the agitation. It alleged that the incident was part of an attempt to intimidate the protestors. The driver and others inside the vehicle fled when the local people started rushing to the spot, action committee leaders said.

The agitation that entered 16th day on Tuesday brought the municipality’s garbage collection and disposal activities to a complete standstill. The municipal authorities said that the piling up of waste in different parts of the town was a major health hazard. No possible solution was conceived as of now as the protestors were refusing to attend the talks convened to discuss proposals for solving the grievances of the residents at Chelora. The municipal authorities also alleged that the district administration was maintaining a passive attitude to the serious issue of disruption of garbage disposal, while the police was supporting the agitators.

T.O. Mohanan, chairman of the municipal standing committee (welfare), said that during earlier agitations by the local residents, talks had been held at different levels to sort out the problem. This time the action committee refused to attend the talks convened even by the Collector, he said adding that the district administration and the police were not co-operating with the municipal authorities to address the serious problem. He said that the waste in the town was not necessarily generated by people living in the municipal area alone.

The municipality, for example, had collected huge food waste from food packets distributed to nearly 20,000 people from different parts of the district who attended the Chief Minister’s mass contact programme on January 5.

According to the municipal officials, though the agitation started in protest against the delay in implementing a water supply scheme for 126 families living near the dump, the action committee was not speaking about the water supply problem after the municipality decided to speedily implement another Rs. 30 lakh water supply scheme for the area at a time when the municipality was struggling with paucity of funds. The amount of Rs. 19 lakh already transferred to the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) for the earlier scheme that did not materialise because of objections from the neighbouring Mundery panchayat would be added to additional Rs. 11 lakh to be released by the municipality to complete the new project.

The officials said that unlike the landfills of other municipalities elsewhere in the State, the dump at Chelora has been well maintained as per the demands of the local residents. A compound wall has been constructed and plastic waste has been totally barred from dumping at the yard. The municipality the other day transported 42,000 kg of plastic waste, collected over a period of six moths, for recycling, they disclosed.

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