A tense situation prevailed at Paipad, near Thiruvalla, on Wednesday after a violent protest by the local people against the dumping of waste collected from a colony of migrant workers on the Kothachirappara-Paipad stretch of the Paipad-Kaviyur Road on Wednesday.
The protesters, including women and children, blocked the road and flayed the alleged inaction on the part of the officials concerned to address the health risk posed by the “unhygienic” living conditions of migrant workers in and around Paipad.
The waste was found dumped and littered along nearly 2.5-km stretch of the road on Wednesday morning.
A group of protesters attacked the rented dwellings of the migrant workers. They also hurled stones at a private bus. The police and Revenue officials visited the place.
The police were greeted with ‘go-back’ calls by the agitators. The villagers alleged that the Circle Inspector had even threatened action against them when they approached the Thrikkodithanam police station to lodge a complaint against the pollution menace posed by the “unauthorised” slum-like colonies of migrant workers at Paipad.
A group of migrant workers told The Hindu that the waste was removed by a contractor in a truck from the large pit in the courtyard of their rented building on Tuesday night. The workers were housed in dormitory-type buildings with small rooms to accommodate 15 to 20 people each. They paid monthly rent of Rs. 750 each, said a panchayat member. Twenty-eight house owners had illegally rented out their buildings to migrant workers in the wards of Paipad without providing them basic facilities, said a resident of the area.
Kannanattukulam, a pond that has been catering to the drinking water needs of the panchayat, has been polluted with the flow of filth into it from a colony of migrant workers, said panchayat member Shylamma Rajappan.
The local people insisted that the waste dumped on the road should be taken back to the courtyard of the owner of the rented buildings. The waste was collected in a truck with the help of a earthmover and disposed of in a remote area, later. The road was washed by the Fire and Rescue Force with the help of fire engines.
Ms. Rajappan told The Hindu that the workers were living in unhygienic conditions posing alarming health risk to themselves as well as the local population.
Health workers told The Hindu that five cases of malaria had been reported from among the migrant workers in Paipad. They said four persons had been detected to be infected with HIV, at a camp for migrant workers organised by the AIDS Control Society in Chnganacherry a few months ago. Though the matter was reported to the higher-ups, no follow-up had been taken so far, they said.