Garbage disposal remains a burning problem

PERVASIVE PROBLEM: Smoke billowing from a dumping yard at Pallikaranai on Saturday.

PERVASIVE PROBLEM: Smoke billowing from a dumping yard at Pallikaranai on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo : A. Muralitharan

K. Manikandan

Open burning of garbage is common practice at the dumping yard at Alandur

TAMBARAM: The non-stop burning of garbage at the dumping yard of Alandur Municipality in Pallikaranai resulted in a major fire on Saturday. Fire tenders from Tiruvanmiyur and Guindy had to be deployed.

There was no threat to property or life but the thick fumes of billowing smoke caused hardship to residents in localities around the yard and the thousands of motorists on Velachery Main Road.

Around 70 tonnes of garbage is generated in the local body every day and dumped on a nine-acre site at Pallikaranai adjacent to Velachery Main Road. It is common for civic workers to set fire to garbage as a means to “dispose” it of, a practice for several years now. Opposite Alandur’s dumping yard, Chennai Corporation dumps garbage in the heartland of Pallikaranai marshland. The dumping yard site’s original expanse was about 20 acres and about half of it has been handed over to a private firm that has planted saplings to create a green belt. Though door-to-door collection of garbage is on in the 42 wards of Alandur, source segregation is yet to commence.

The problem is not restricted to Alandur alone. It persists in two other bigger Municipalities too – Tambaram and Pallavaram. While Pallavaram Municipal workers burn garbage dumped in the ‘periya eri,’ in Tambaram, garbage is burnt at the dumping yard in Kannadapalayam.

But for Pammal Municipality and a few village panchayats, most of the urban and rural local bodies in the southern suburbs resort to burning of garbage as the easiest method of disposal. Privatisation of garbage collection and disposal has made little improvement, say activists and elected representatives in this region.

Action plan

They pointed to the Policy Note of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply that an action plan had been initiated to ensure that all urban local bodies complied with the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, in a time-bound manner. Work on the Rs. 18 crore integrated modern compost yard project in Venkatamangalam near Vandalur has been on for more than a year. Until such projects were completed, local bodies could follow the Pammal model, under which kitchen waste generated was converted into organic manure in a private-public-government partnership, activists appealed.

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