Plastic waste piled up at Kochi Corporation’s solid waste treatment plant in Brahmapuram has gone up in smoke without fail every year since 2019.
In fact, at least one major fire and numerous fires of varying intensity have been reported from the plant in the last five years, taking firefighters from several hours to several days to douse the fire and bring the situation under control. Most of the major fires were reported during the February-March period and had choked people with smoke in a wider radius around the plant for days together.
Moreover, every single time there has been allegations that Corporation had deliberately set the plastic waste on fire to bring down the quantum of garbage being stored at the plant.
Shortly after a major fire in February 2019, the Vadavucode-Puthencruz panchayat had threatened to restrict the transportation of waste to the plant demanding the Corporation to comply with the decision taken by the State-level monitoring committee on waste management, which had among other things asked for the installation of fire hydrants around the plant. It took about five days before the fire was doused and the situation was brought under control.
Hardly a month after that, another fire broke out in the plant. Thankfully, it wasn’t as major fire as the previous one and firefighters could bring it under control in a matter of hours. Corporation authorities had at that time claimed that they had constantly sprayed water on the waste in the area where the fire broke out the previous month and that the fire broke out in another area dumped with the garbage from the 2018 deluge.
Corporation had back then also claimed that they had created fire breakers between heaps of plastic waste. However, even during the latest fire, firefighters complained about how the non-separation of plastic heaps made their job tougher.
Though not on a similar massive scale like the fire in 2019, there another major blaze was a year after in February 2020 and was brought under control in a matter of hours.
Again, in March 2021, a major fire erupted at the plant. Though it was doused in less than two days, smoke billowing out of the burnt plastic continued to cause hardships to people in extended areas for two more days. Most recent incident was in March 2022 and it took the fire fighters about 10 hours to douse it.