The deadlock over the dumping yard at Vadavathoor continued with the Vijayapuram grama panchayat hardening its stance. The leaders of the panchayat have decided to go ahead with their plan of holding an indefinite agitation from Monday. They will attempt to forcefully close down the yard as part of the agitation.
The unprecedented move by the local body has come as a shot in the arm for the Action Council that has been spearheading the movement for closing the yard.
Speaking to media persons here on Saturday, grama panchayat president Baiju Cherukottayil said the decision to align with the agitation was made in the midst of, what he termed, the continuing apathy of the Kottayam Municipality. “The residents of Vijayapuram have suffered for around 70 years due to proximity to the dumping yard. There has no been dearth in studies that have proved that the surrounding environment is highly polluted with the groundwater contaminated with E.Coli bacteria and other harmful substance. Several residents have been suffering various health problems for a long period,” he said.
The 19-member grama panchayat is controlled by the United Democratic Front (UDF) with the president belonging to the Congress party. Mr. Chetukottayil, however, said they would not bow down to political pressure. He added that they would not settle for a compromise on a temporary basis. “We will settle for nothing other than permanent closure of the dumping yard. It is up to the municipal authorities to identify a different location to establish the facility. We have also decided against attending conciliatory meetings called by the district administration and the municipality as they have been in vain in the past. However, we will participate in discussions organised on behalf of the State government.”
According to him, the grama panchayat has decided to adopt a two-pronged strategy to deal with the issue. In addition to the public agitation, it would also proceed with a legal battle. “A group of advocates residing in the area has pledged their support towards our struggle,” he said.
Action Council convenor Paulson Peter said the agitators would hold a strike declaration convention at the auditorium of Girideepam High School in Vadavathoor following which the dumping yard would be closed.
Members of the grama panchayat will take turns in leading the indefinite agitation on a daily basis. Persons belonging to all sections of the society would participate in the movement, he said.
Waste disposal to be hit
With the declaration of the agitation, waste collection and disposal in Kottayam town limits is likely to be hindered. However, municipal authorities said they would go ahead and continue to dispose waste at the yard in compliance with the directives of the Kerala High Court.