Waste dumping near paddy fields annoys Uchimedu farmers

Rules broken: Garbage being dumped near paddy fields at Uchimedu in Puducherry.   | Photo Credit: S.S. Kumar

Uchimedu farmers are an angry lot after civic officials started indiscriminate dumping of solid waste on a piece of land close to their paddy fields and a lake on which they depend for irrigation.

Despite objections from farmers, the waste collected from around 10 villages in the Bahour, Kuruvinatham, Kirumampakkam, Kannikoil, Manapet and Madhikrishnapuram areas is dumped on the land adjacent to the paddy fields and 10-15 metres away from the Uchimedu pond.

Road turns unusable

The locals say the waste dumping started around two months ago, and the small road dividing the fields and the pond has become unusable because conservancy workers are dumping waste on both sides.

“Two years ago, the Bahour commune panchayat tried to dump the waste, but the then Lt. Governor intervened and halted its attempt because it was against the rules. According to the guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board, the 50 metre-100 metre periphery of a waterbody must be treated as a green or buffer zone,” G. Sathiyamoorthy, president of the Uchimedu pond association, told The Hindu. The Central Pollution Control Board’s guidelines mandate that in case of any residential or commercial or industrial activity taking place within the buffer zone, measures should be taken to prevent waste discharge into the waterbody.

“The crux of the guidelines is that no activity that allows waste discharge should be encouraged around waterbodies. In Uchimedu, there is no industrial or residential activity resulting in waste discharge; instead, the civic body has allowed the periphery of the lake to be used as a dumpyard,” Mr. Sathiyamoorthy said.

Two truck loads of garbage is dumped every day on the periphery of the lake, he said, and the farmers are worried about any adverse impact on their crop.

“If the lake is 10 metres-15 metres away, the paddy cultivation will be around 20 metres away. In the recent rain, the water stagnating on the paddy fields looked coloured. We don’t know the impact of waste accumulation on the soil,” said Sarangipani, a farmer and resident of Kannikoil. Around 40 hectares near the pond is under paddy cultivation.

“Paddy has started growing only now. Workers sit on the road and eat food during breaks. They complain about foul smell emanating from the waste, especially in the last few days following the heavy rain. The authorities have become insensitive to the farmers’ concerns,” he said.

According to an official of the Puducherry Pollution Control Committee, the commune panchayat is responsible for the enforcement of the Solid Waste Management Rules. As per the Schedule (1) of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, landfill sites are not allowed within 100 metres of a river and 200 metres of a pond.

‘Wall mandatory’

“We have not given permission for any landfill but only for a solid waste processing facility. We have asked them [the civic body] to have a compound wall around the site.

The processing area should be provided with lining to avoid ground water contamination. Roofing or leachate collection and treatment should be provided to control surface run-off,” said the official.

Mr. Sathiyamoorthy said anyone could visit the spot to find whether any of the measures have been adopted. “Nothing has been done; in a few months after the area gets filled, they will dump waste even on the paddy fields and the lake. Moreover, the land where the waste is dumped was allotted for crushing paddy after harvest.” With garbage around, the farmers would have to take the paddy elsewhere for crushing, he said.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 5:30:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/waste-dumping-near-paddy-fields-annoys-uchimedu-farmers/article37814073.ece

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