KOCHI: In a major setback to the Vilappil Panchayat, the Kerala High Court on Monday directed the Director General of Police to provide adequate police protection for operating the Vilappilsala waste treatment plant. The High Court orally observed that mismanagement and official negligence are the major reasons behind the issue.
“The lock put to the gates of the plant has to be opened with the assistance of police so as to allow entry of garbage vehicles into the plant. The Corporation must make sure that only the limited capacity which can be managed in the existing plant would be brought to the site. Simultaneously, the authorities should find out a solution for disposal of existing waste,” the Court said.
A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice P R Ramachandra Menon passed the order while considering the petition filed by Thiruvananthapuram Corporation Secretary T Bhaskaran seeking police protection for dumping waste in Vilappilsala plant.
Meanwhile, the High Court-appointed Advocate Commissioner, along with the Pollution Control Board (PCB), submitted a report on the extent of pollution and the problems faced by the people in Vilappilsala due to the plant.
The Court also ordered to provide necessary police protection to the staff and the vehicles of the Corporation which carry waste to the plant. The Government must also strictly monitor whether the recommendations put forward by the PCB are being followed.
The Court asked the Corporation to file an affidavit within two weeks stating the measures which will be taken for the disposal of the existing waste.
The State Government submitted that it was ready to provide necessary protection to the Corporation for the smooth functioning of the plant.
“There was only one waste treatment plant for the entire city of Thiruvananthapuram. From December 21, last year, the plant was not working due to the restriction by the panchayat and resistance by the local people. The Court is always concerned about the interest of the public. There needs an immediate solution so as to curb the menace,” the Court said.
The report by the PCB pointed out that the capacity of the plant was much lesser than the garbage collected and hence this must be reduced. The plant has a capacity of 90 tonnes, but the garbage being accumulated in the plant is about 203 tonnes per day.
The report pointed out that the waste materials dumped in the plant were polluting the Karamana river as well as the water sources in the area. However, the Corporation submitted that it had taken several steps to rectify the deficiencies. Even if certain deficiencies were found, the unit was working since 2000 and if the unit was not allowed to function, it would lead to much more problems than the present, the Corporation said.
However, the Vilappil Panchayat said the plant is creating health hazards to the local people. “The plant has no valid licence. So, police protection could not be allowed. There was no separation of degradable and non-degradable wastes,” it said. “Does the Panchayat want to pollute Thiruvananthapuram city? Will you take the responsibility of the waste treatment?” the Court asked.