City Corporation yet to come up with collection and disposal system
The city Corporation is struggling to find a solution to the problem of garbage accumulation in new wards annexed to the city from five suburban panchayats last year.
Faced with local resistance to the operation of the solid waste treatment plant at Vilappilsala, the Corporation is fighting shy of deploying Kudumbasree units for daily garbage collection in the new wards annexed from the Kazhakuttam, Sreekaryam, Kudappanakunnu, Vattiyoorkavu and Vizhinjam panchayats.
Councillors in the outlying wards sounded the warning that the situation would get out of hand soon, unless immediate steps were taken to address the problem.
“Mounds of garbage are accumulating by roadsides, posing a health hazard. People have started asking us whether this is the price they have to pay for the merger of the panchayat with the city. The Corporation authorities maintain that they will have to evolve their own system for garbage disposal till the end of the financial year. But public patience is wearing thin,” said Sadanandan Thai, councillor representing the Kottapuram ward annexed from the former Vizhinjam panchayat.
Garbage accumulation raises the threat of an epidemic outbreak in the densely-populated coastal areas. Mr. Thai was forced to stage a sit-in at Vizhinjam last Friday, forcing the Corporation to deploy trucks to remove the garbage mounds that had started rotting.
The Vilappil gram panchayat and Nemom block panchayat are on the warpath against the Corporation, demanding that the centralised treatment plant be closed down on grounds of environmental pollution. They want the Corporation to adopt a decentralised system of solid waste management, focussing on mini treatment plants and household and community-level garbage disposal.
“There is no immediate solution in sight. Setting up a mini treatment plant is easier said than done. For one, there is the difficulty in identifying land. If at all land is available, the neighbourhood will put up stiff resistance to a garbage plant. It will require a protracted public consultation exercise to overcome these hurdles,” said a civic official.
Disposal at source
In the Sreekaryam ward annexed from the former panchayat, councillor Vijayakumar is spearheading a public sensitisation campaign to promote garbage disposal at the household and community level. “The large number of apartment complexes that have sprouted up all over the ward pose a new threat. The garbage from these flats is dumped by the roadside. We are now trying to enlist the support of residents' associations to discourage this,” he said.
Mr. Vijayakumar said there was no alternative to setting up a mechanised treatment plant in the area comprising the former panchayat, though he admitted that identifying land for the project was a major challenge.
He was sore that there had been no move on the part of the Corporation to set up a plant or initiate a public discussion on the issue. “These are things that should have been planned well before the panchayats were merged with the city,” he said.
The Chanthavila ward that was annexed to the city from the Kazhakuttam panchayat is struggling to deal with the garbage problem that threatens to erupt into a crisis. “Garbage is piling up at many places. The LDF leadership is focussed on wriggling out of the threat posed by the local agitation at Vilappil. The people here feel that they are getting a raw deal from the Corporation,” said councillor K. Mohanan Nair.
The Nettayam ward annexed to the city from the Vattiyoorkavu panchayat is also facing the problem of garbage accumulation. “Despite public pressure, the Corporation has not introduced a system for collection or initiated steps to establish a mini treatment plant,” said councillor M.R. Rajeev. The BJP, which won the ward, is campaigning for a network of at least 10 mini treatment plants and incinerators across the city to replace the centralised system of processing at the Vilappil project.
Mr. Thai, however, said the government should step in to acquire land for garbage plants. “Much of the public resistance to such plants can be overcome if the Corporation develops a pilot project to demonstrate environment-friendly technology,'' he said.
Chairperson of the health standing committee S. Pushpalatha said the Corporation was planning a massive grassroots-level campaign to promote garbage disposal at source. A Suchitwa Police Corps would be set up in schools and resource persons would be appointed. The campaign is expected to be launched by the month end.
Ms. Pushpalatha said directives would be issued soon to remove the accumulated garbage from public places using the services of different agencies. She said the Corporation would move the government seeking stiffer penalty to deter litterbugs.