Waste management in Kozhikode not quite a clean picture

Kozhikode, Kerala, 30/06/2019:The plot for Kozhikode corporation Material Recovery Fessility ( MRF) at West Hill in Kozhikode ( to go with aabha story City Matters))Photo: S.RAMESH KURUP/THE HINDU.   | Photo Credit: S_RAMESHKURUP

Littered beaches, stinking and overflowing drains, and stray dogs feeding on slaughter waste are common sights in Kozhikode city on a normal day. And it has been so for decades.

That was why when the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) awarded the first prize to the Kozhikode Municipal Corporation for best environmental practices among the cities in the State, many eyebrows were raised. “If this is the best, what could be the condition of other cities?” was the obvious question.

“We don’t even have a proper waste collection mechanism. Then how can we be the best,” asks S.V.S. Mohammed Shameel, an Independent councillor in the Corporation. “The three panchayats that have been lately added to the Corporation are yet to be included in the waste collection system aided by Kudumbashree.”

Congress councillor P.M. Niyas says it was a situation akin to the one-eyed man being king in the land of the blind. “Just look at our sewerage system. Every house, apartment complex and commercial building should ideally have its own system to treat liquid waste. But in Kozhikode it is mostly diverted into the drain, polluting waterbodies,” says he.

While the Kozhikode Corporation highlights its association with a private firm to process chicken waste as one of the efforts that earned it the award, Mr. Niyas points out that the civic body has been granting slaughter licences in hundreds even when it does not have a slaughter unit with a proper mechanism to process the waste produced there.

“The announcements on the ban on flexes and single-use plastic carry bags could not be implemented,” says the councillor. The plan for the proposed waste-to-energy plant at Njeliyanparamba is also being questioned. “All these years we have been trying to implement source-level waste management and have been creating awareness among the people. So much money has been spent on it and now we are going back to centralised waste processing,” he adds.

Waste-to-energy plants

An official on condition of anonymity says waste-to-energy plants have never succeeded and that it was a threat to the idea of decentralised waste management. “The Kozhikode Corporation has the services of the Green Task Force in only two wards. The three Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) proposed are nowhere near completion. The Thumboormoozhi composts have been set up only in three places despite claims of 26 successful units,” adds the official.

However, Babu Parambath, the project coordinator of Niravu Vengeri, a waste management agency that has taken up many of the Corporation’s projects, has a different story to tell. “Ten years ago we had at least 20 points in the city where people used to dump their household waste wrapped in plastic bags. But now we have very few of such spots,” says Mr. Parambath.

“No other Corporation in the State has its own plastic recycling unit. We have the cleanest railway station in the State. The cleaning process of the Conolly Canal could not be replicated in any other waterbody,” he adds.

Mr. Parambath, however, criticises the civic body for the slow pace of construction of MRFs, without which, the plastic recycling unit at West Hill has become a dumping yard. He also stresses the need to speed up the activation of Green Task Force in all wards. “More than its efforts, the general environment awareness among the public is what saves the day for Kozhikode Corporation,” he adds.

‘Better than others’

Corporation health standing committee chairman K.V. Baburaj says the award does not mean that the civic body’s projects are perfect. “It is just that we are better compared to others,” he says. The Corporation had received a mention from PCB the previous year, though no civic body was awarded. “It is good that we had competition this time and we could do something more that warrants an award,” he adds. Mr. Baburaj says the waste management system of the city has become more systematic compared to the previous year. Besides, the efforts taken for processing of chicken waste from all the meat vending units in the city was also considered by the Pollution Control Board, he adds.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 4:13:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/waste-management-in-kozhikode-not-quite-a-clean-picture/article28236995.ece

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