Thiruvananthapuram

Corporation faces a fresh challenge at Vilappilsala

The city Corporation has more to worry than the people's agitation and legal tangle in the operation of the beleaguered Vilappilsala solid waste treatment plant.

With the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) deciding to back out from the technical support and operating agency role (for the plant), the Corporation is caught in a delicate situation over the running of the facility.

CED had in December 2011 given a notice to the Corporation communicating its decision to quit operations. The period of the two-month advance notice will end on February 29.

Deputy Mayor G. Happykumar said the Corporation had decided not to scout for another agency to run the plant for now.

“As of now, the Corporation has decided to operate the plant on its own if CED backs out. Our immediate concern is to complete the construction of a leachate treatment plant and sanitary landfill and run the plant successfully as per the direction of the High Court. CED has no role in these construction works, which are being done under the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP),” he said.

“The Corporation has five technical staff at the plant besides contract workers who have been working there right from the beginning. By now, our team has studied how to operate and manage the plant, so that we may not have to depend on another agency,” Mr. Happykumar said.

CED director Babu Ambat said it was the lackadaisical attitude of the Corporation that prompted the non-governmental organisation to quit operation.

“Since the present council came to power, the general attitude of the Corporation towards the running of the plant has been very discouraging. Earlier, there used to be strict monitoring and involvement of the Corporation. But in the past one year things have been different,” he said.

The Corporation has not been able to ensure even basic facilities inside the plant. Out of the four excavator vehicles provided at the plant, two had been remaining out of order for more than nine months now, he said.

“These vehicles are required to carry out virtually all the work inside the plant from moving of waste and land filling to mixing of compost. With just two vehicles in the place of four, there is little we can do,” Mr. Ambat said.

The condition of roads and other facilities inside the plant are also very poor. Mr. Ambat said the CED had sent several letters to the Corporation seeking better facilities.

“The Corporation has a technical committee on waste management which used to meet regularly during the tenure of the last Council. However, the committee did not meet for more than nine months after the new Council came to power. It was only when the agitation against the plant strengthened and issues began to crop up that they resumed discussions some three months ago,” Mr. Ambat said.

The CED had taken up the operation and management of the Vilappilsala plant in April 2008. CED, an agency accredited by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for solid and liquid waste management, had been providing design and engineering support to several municipal waste treatment plants in the country, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. (CED is providing technical support for the setting up of 10 treatment plants in that city).

Although CED will be quitting the management and operation of the Vilappilsala plant, it will continue to provide technical support if the Corporation wanted the service.

“It is not like we are deserting. Vilappilsala plant is among the best in the country. And CED will continue to associate as a technical support agency,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 9:22:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/corporation-faces-a-fresh-challenge-at-vilappilsala/article2868567.ece

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