CHENNAI: At first glance, the temple town of Thiruneermalai could pass for a zero waste panchayat. Wet waste is composted, rubber tyres and plastic recycled and there is no landfill in the solid waste management facility. But what happens to the diapers, sanitary napkins and non-recyclable plastic?
The panchayat has been quietly dumping these non-biodegradable wastes in a burial ground beside the Thiruneermalai lake. Locals allege this diversion of municipal waste into the burial ground has been happening for the last three months.
When Express visited the spot, it found sanitary napkins, syringes, soiled diapers and medicine vials buried under heaps of non-recyclable plastic covers. Charring of waste also suggests that it was being regularly set on fire to make way for new loads.
Regular commuters on Chennai Bypass confirmed that the landfill usually smolders in the evenings. When contacted, officials at the solid waste management facility run by an NGO claimed that they have no facilities to dispose off medical, hazardous and non-recyclable waste.
“There was a landfill next to the solid waste management facility, but it was closed and biomined after a private individual went to court claiming it was his land,” said an official. However, locals, who have seen the systematic dilapidation of Tiruneermalai lake over the years by sewage intrusion claimed the unauthorised landfill will sound the death knell for the lake.G Prema, Executive Officer of Thiruneermalai Town Panchayat, was not available for a response.