KOCHI: One delay has cost it dear, but that does not seem to have spurred the cash-strapped Kochi Corporation into action as the deadline to pay a Rs 4 crore fine to the Pollution Control Board (PCB) draws near. In an order issued by the south bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 20, the Corporation was fined Rs 1 crore and levied an additional Rs 3 crore as performance guarantee to the PCB in 15 days for its delay in complying with the NGT’s order to construct a waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram.
But the Corporation has neither initiated talks with the councillors to source the whopping amount nor has a discussion been initiated to submit a review petition with the Supreme Court. The Opposition has condemned the Corporation’s lethargic attitude. “It is a very serious matter. Though the NGT issued the order 10 days back, the ruling council has taken it lightly,” said Opposition councillor V P Chandran.
“Though we asked the Mayor to convene a special council to discuss it, she has not responded so far. It is irresponsible of the Mayor and the ruling council.” According to him, it is the responsibility of the Corporation to find R4 crore within a week.
“But the ruling council can’t take an autonomous decision in this regard. It should get the council’s nod. If the civic body fails to initiate a strategy against the order, the NGT will soon issue a directive to close down the plant. That will be another jolt to the people in the district,” said Chandran. The NGT’s order came following the visit of an advocate’s commission in September 2016 to the Brahmapuram plant to review the waste segregation process. The NGT then issued an order to set up a plant to prevent wastewater from entering the Kadambrayar River.
While Corporation sources said the Mayor has convened a meeting of officers on Wednesday to discuss the strategy to be taken against the NGT order, the ruling councillors seem clueless about this. “I don’t have any idea when the Corporation is going to submit a review petition in this regard. We hope the Mayor will convene a meeting,” said a ruling councillor. Though Deputy Mayor T J Vinodh confirmed the Corporation is planning to submit a review petition against the order, he failed to provide the strategy they have taken to deal the crisis. “We will soon file a review petition. The rest of the things need to be discussed,” he said.
Despite several attempts from Express, Mayor Soumini Jain didn’t respond to queries.