Waste management is a universal headache. But it turned so personal for ‘Trivandrum-ites’ in 2012 that no other issue sparked so much public debate, interest or political controversy. At the end of the year, it’s garbage hills and pits that have become the city’s landmarks. All because a little village stopped obliging the garbage trucks from city.
Vilappil panchayat stood its ground, reiterating before the government and High Court that no garbage truck from the city would be allowed to enter its land.
The advocate commission which was appointed to conduct a first hand study put the issue in perspective, urging the High Court to come up with a favourable verdict for the City Corporation. Let the treatment of existing waste be allowed along with the completion of the leachate treatment, the court observed.
Vilappil panchayat moved Supreme Court and the apex court upheld the verdict of the High Court. But the keys of the waste treatment plant remained with the panchayat.
Finally, a prohibitory order was clamped on the panchayat to transport machinery for the construction of the leachate plant. But the district administration had to kneel down before public outcry. After a short break, the government transported the machinery during the wee hours to avoid resistance.
Caught in the political tug-of-war between a UDF panchayat and the LDF Corporation, the hundreds of women in the Kudumbasree Cleanwell units who used to collect garbage from houses lost their livelihood.
In between, the government and Suchitwa Mission planned, disposed and burnt their fingers over many projects for waste management.
Garbage was dumped at Kochuveli and Murukkumpuzha for building railway platforms amidst huge local protest. The move to dump garbage in a quarry at Vellar raised another hullabaloo. The proposal to dump garbage in 20 quarries is still pending. The government considered waste baling in between, but then opted to buy a mobile incinerator, which is draining its coffers on a daily basis and which the officials find technically feasible and non-feasible at times, according to their convenience. A gasification plant at Chalai would come up in December, it was said. But even the paper works for this have not been completed.
Going by the indicators, the headache of waste management is here to stay.