Waste burning, a health hazard at Pallikaranai

The gesture says it all - what Pallikaranai is today, with the dumping and burning of the city's waste. — Photo: M. Moorthy

The gesture says it all - what Pallikaranai is today, with the dumping and burning of the city's waste. — Photo: M. Moorthy  

CHENNAI SEPT. 8. Residents of Mylai Balaji Nagar, Pallikaranai, were a happy lot, when they were relocated from their huts in the city to the area seven years ago. But, today they face severe health problems mainly due to burning of waste at the Pallikaranai dumping yard.

Originally living along the banks of the Buckingham canal, they were relocated when the Mass Rapid Transit System railway project was started. Assuring them improved infrastructure and all basic amenities, the Chennai Corporation moved them out of the city.

Till a few years ago, they were leading a normal life at the new place. When a garbage dumping yard appeared at Pallikaranai, they never realised that it would prove to be their undoing. Today many residents have serious respiratory problems and children are the worst hit.

Residents say that people have been burning the unsegregated garbage at the yard for the past three years and in recent times it had increased considerably, affecting the health of those living in Balaji Nagar.

With a view to stopping the indiscriminate burning of garbage, residents joined hands with the Velachery Exnora and staged a protest on Monday.

One of the residents said his nine-year-old daughter complained of breathing problems a couple of days ago. When admitted to a hospital the doctors said it could even lead to asthma.

Many children in the area have breathing problems and some of them have developed asthma, said Dr. Beulah, running a clinic in Balaji Nagar. Some of the elders were suspected to have tuberculosis, she said.

Whenever residents met Alandur municipality officials at the yard, they requested them not to burn the garbage. But, the request had fallen on deaf ears, says the president of the Exnora Innovators' Club, Velachery, A.M. Malathi.

"Soon after shifting us from the city, the authorities assured us that all the basic infrastructure such as water connection and toilet facilities will be provided at Pallikaranai. In reality nothing was provided to us. Water is being supplied once in a fortnight and today while we were about to leave for the protest, the officials diverted two water lorries to our area, mainly to distract us", women residents said.

The founder of Exnora, M. B. Nirmal who participated in the protest, said the Pollution Control Board authorities should intervene immediately and put an end to burning of garbage.

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