Residents block garbage trucks, Corporation assures them of a solution
COIMBATORE: More than thousand tonnes of garbage piled up at the Coimbatore Corporation's compost yard along Chettipalayam Road in Vellalore burned again, sending thick clouds of smoke into more than 10 residential layouts and turning people sleepless and breathless for the last couple of days.
The problem was at its worst on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, though the Corporation tried to douse the flames and control the smoke. Residents gave vent to their ire by stopping 29 garbage lorries from entering the yard with fresh loads of garbage from across the city. (More than 500 tonnes of waste is dumped at the yard every day.) Occurring almost once in three months or even more frequently, this has led to a suspicion that Corporation workers themselves set the dumps ablaze as an easy method of waste disposal.
Residents sought to nail the Corporation's claim of rag pickers indulging in this mischief by asking how they could enter a fenced yard. "We do not think this is possible when the yard is cordoned off; not when there are people to guard the place," V.Y. Pradeep, a resident of Mahalingapuram, an affected colony, pointed out. "Sometimes the smell that emanates from the burning dumps suggests that bio-medical waste is still brought here," he alleged. The secretary of the Kurichi-Vellalore Pollution Prevention Action Committee, K.S. Mohan, said: "Garbage has been burning for almost three days. Poor visibility owing to thick smoke prevented the Corporation's water lorries from entering the yard on Tuesday." This was happening with alarming regularity and any number of protests and memoranda to the authorities concerned had not yielded the desired result, he said.
The committee planned to meet the Local Administration Minister, M.K. Stalin, to appeal for the shifting of the yard. But with too many agencies and procedures involved, there was very little optimism over a shift.
Mr. Mohan said that every time a fire broke out in the yard, it took almost a week for the smoke to subside even if the blaze was put out in a day.
Health problems in aged people got aggravated by the smoke. The Mayor in-charge, K. Raghupathy, said that efforts were on to put out the fire. "We sent water lorries to douse the flames. Disinfectant was sprayed on the garbage a few days ago following complaints of flies."
An excavator-cum-loader used for pushing garbage deep into the yard broke down recently. This had led to garbage remaining closer to the colonies. Mr. Raghupathy said he had ordered for another equipment to be sent to the yard on Wednesday.
The residents allowed the lorries to dump the waste in the yard following an assurance from Mr. Raghupathy that the fire would be put out completely by evening. "If the assurance is not kept, we will block the lorries on Thursdayas more waste will only add to the problem," Mr. Mohan said.