K. Lakshmi and Deepa H Ramakrishnan
CHENNAI: Residents of Kuthambakkam near Poonamallee plan to intensify protests against the setting up of compost yard for five local bodies in the area, as they fear it may pollute the environment.
The proposed facility, spread over 65 acres, is to be shared by local bodies in Ambattur, Maduravoyal, Valasaravakkam, Poonamallee and Thiruverkadu. Two of the local bodies have worked hard to get the proposal cleared. Kuthambakkam residents oppose it on the grounds that the nearby water bodies will be polluted.
Sources in the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board said that a No Objection Certificate had been issued to municipalities in Ambattur and Thiruverkadu for the site. However environmental clearance was still pending.
G. Arun Senthil Ram of Toxics Link said he had sent telegrams to environment bodies, including Tamil Nadu State Environment Authority, urging them to shift the compost yard to a different place where there are no water bodies.
The earmarked site is only 3.5 km from the Chembarambakkam reservoir and establishing a garbage compost yard may lead to groundwater contamination, he said.
Residents of Kuthambakkam said setting up of compost yard violated their rights as the panchayat was not consulted about the decision. Moreover, the site is close to residential areas and the authorities concerned did not conduct any public hearing before issuing the NOC.
Former Kuthambakkam panchayat president R.Elango said the earmarked site was still being used as grazing land. Moreover, the site was close to the catchment area of the Chembarambakkam reservoir that supplied drinking water to the city. “We are doubtful if the local bodies would be able to do composting in a scientific manner. The compost yard would only end up polluting the area,” he said.
Officials of Ambattur municipality said preliminary sanction had been accorded by the TNPCB for the facility to be developed across 40-acre site. The remaining 25 acres would be shared by the other municipalities. “The proposed project would help solve the garbage disposal problem of Ambattur that generates 200 tonnes daily. The present facility at Athipattu is running out of space,” an official said.
An official of Valasaravakkam municipality awaiting clearance for NOC said the local body had to dump garbage on vacant lands or transport the 25 tonnes of waste generated to distant areas as there was no dumping yard.