Residents of villages under Kannanallur panchayat near Valliyoor are living in constant fear of outbreak of diseases as tonnes of biomedical waste from Kerala, a potential source of serious diseases, is being dumped into abandoned stone quarries in the area for the past two years.
The villagers say despite repeated appeals, the official machinery has not taken action against those who dump the waste, thereby posing a serious threat to people and the environment. After illicit mining of stones was reportedly detected in a few stone quarries in and around Kannanallur a few years back, officials cancelled their mining licences. Since then, these 200-foot-deep quarries have been remaining abandoned. With the quarries having become unproductive, the person who was operating them has found a ‘novel way’ of minting money from them.
“For the past two years, several truckloads of biomedical waste is brought from Kerala and dumped into the quarries. So far, five quarries have been filled up,” said a farmer. He claimed that the erstwhile quarry operator was paid ₹10,000 for every truckload of biomedical waste dumped in the quarry. “While he is earning money, the poor villagers residing nearby are living in constant fear of getting afflicted with contagious diseases from the waste,” he said.
Some of the drivers of these trucks, all registered in Kerala, dump the waste in a nearby ground also at night. Gusty wind spreads the waste far and wide. “The wind carries the stench and also lighter medical waste such as blood-stained cotton, tablet foils, etc.,” said a woman. These people are scared of an open revolt against the ‘powerful’ quarry operator.
Policemen deployed at the check-posts at Aralvaimozhi and Kavalkinaru should take stern action against drivers bringing in medical waste, concealed under tarpaulins. “Since the drivers tackle the policemen easily with some proven tactics, several tonnes of biomedical waste is brought from Kerala. If they start initiating punitive measures against lorry drivers transporting the dangerous waste, it will put an end to this issue permanently,” the woman said.