CHENNAI: After raising protests with various fora to shift the sprawling, stinking dumpyard from their neighbourhood, residents of Kodungaiyur are now set to move the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal here, charging that the yard was existing in violation of rules.
“According to Solid Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2000, a dumpyard should not be located in residential or institutional area. Also, pure air is the basic right of every citizen. But the Corporation has violated all rules,” charged NS Ramachandra Rao, president of the Ever Vigilant Citizens Welfare Association which has been fighting for the shifting of the yard.
It was in 1985 that the civic body started dumping garbage on the 740-acre land. “It began with about 20 tonnes of waste a day. Today, garbage from seven zones of the city reaches this dumpyard,” Rao added.
Over three lakh families reside in the neighbourhood in localities such as Krishnamoorthy Nagar, Ezhil Nagar, MKB Nagar, KKD Nagar, MR Nagar and Sathya Moorty Nagar. According to the members of the association, the area is not meant for dumping garbage and once used to be a sprawling marshland spread across nearly 900 acres, populated by birds.Meanwhile, following repeated complaints from the public and environmental activists, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has installed an ambient air quality monitoring system at Krishnamoorthy Nagar to study pollution levels at the dumpyard.
“The equipment will record the presence of benzene, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen, carbon monoxide and dust particles, apart from temperature and humidity,” said an official involved in operating the system.
A couple of years ago, a study conducted by a Chennai-based environmental group had revealed the presence of high levels of metal-laden dust in the air samples taken from the dumpyard. The samples taken in 2012 were sent to a lab in the United States for analysis. Apart from the hazardous fine dust particles, the lab also found traces of nerve-damaging lead and magnesium, apart from carcinogenic nickel in the samples.
Opening yet another front in the war against the dumpyard, Vivek, a college student who had started an online signature campaign for closing down both Kodungaiyur and Perungudi dumpyards, said he was in the process of making a documentary on Kodungaiyur, focusing on the health hazards faced by those living close to the yard. “I want to raise awareness about solid waste management among the public,” he added. The Chennai Corporation, meanwhile, is learnt to have received clearance for an Integrated Solid Waste Management Project at the dumpyard. However, senior officials were not available for comment despite repeated attempts.