CHENNAI: The rain didn’t seem to have entirely dampened the festivities in the city as over 27 tons of waste from crackers — 17 tons more than that of the previous year — was sent to the Common Hazardous Waste Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility (CHWTSDF) in Gummidipoondi.
Disposal of hazardous wastes from firecrackers was taken up by Industrial Waste Management Association (IWMA), a non-government organisation formed on the directive of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), which campaigned for a ‘Green Deepavali’ involving safe disposal of hazardous wastes, along with the Chennai Corporation.
“Last year, we disposed of 10 tons of waste. This year, we introduced the ‘Green Deepavali’ concept and expected the waste to be lesser. But the total waste collected and disposed of so far has been 27.681 tons. These were taken to Gummidipoondi on 20 specialised trucks for hazardous material provided by the Corporation,” said Shankar Konjeevaram, the project coordinator for Green Deepavali from IWMA.
The waste has to be taken to the CHWTSDF, which is the only facility available in Tamil Nadu for safe disposal of hazardous waste. The correct disposal of hazardous waste has been a cause for concern in India, and the plant in Chennai has one of the 25 Common Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDF) in the country. Although environmentalists stress the importance of this facility in every area, several States and even the city of Delhi does not have the facility.
“Disposal of hazardous waste has to be scientific. The wastes could seep into ground water and affect drinking water. Animals could come in contact with the waste and get poisoned,” Shankar said.
As part of precautionary measures, Chennai Corporation workers and residents had been instructed on correct disposal of crackers and source segregation from municipal waste, and the IWCA and Corporation made attempts to sensitise people on collecting and segregating the remnants.
Residents were urged to clear the areas outside their homes by themselves, but most people ended up leaving the wastes on the road for the workers to clean. The rain added to the woes, making sweeping all the more tedious as the workers had to separate the firecracker waste from the water manually. “More Corporation vehicles are expected to clear the remaining waste,” Shankar added.