COIMBATORE: A day after four lorries of medical and municipal waste brought from Kerala were seized near Pollachi, the TNPCB took up the issue with its counterpart in the neighbouring State.
Environment Minister B V Ramanna told Express, “Immediately after learning about the dumping of biomedical waste from Kerala at farms in Chemmanampathi near Pollachi, I instructed the TNPCB to write a letter to the Kerala PCB, asking them to take steps to prevent such instances. The issue was taken up with Kerala PCB on Monday.”
“We have also asked guards at all check posts in the border to remain vigilant and not to allow vehicles carrying such waste into Tamil Nadu,” Ramanna added.
Ramanna has also sought a report from the TNPCB over the constant dumping of waste in the western district, based on which, he would take further action.
On Monday, TNPCB officials inspected the four waste-laden lorries that were seized and the site at Marappa Kavundanpudur village near Chemmanampathi.
According to Coimbatore district environmental engineer K Kamaraj, “The farm owner (at the site) said he had allowed one lorry to dump the waste as he was told that it was decomposed manure. However, the waste was not fully decomposed and also heavily mixed with polluting substances like plastic and discarded rubber slippers.”
However, notwithstanding the allegation of Periyar DK activists and the locals, Kamaraj said, “we did not find any medical or bio waste at the spot.”
While transporting manure generated by decomposing waste was not prohibited, he pointed out that in most cases, such waste was not properly segregated. “Even in such cases, we have asked the Kerala PCB to obtain clearance from us before it is brought into TN,” Kamaraj pointed out.
Environmental activists, however, blame the indifference of the TNPCB for the menace.
“The Board is completely toothless and lacks political will to act against the violators. Over the last several years, the Board has not prosecuted even a single person for violating environmental laws. This has encouraged other States to dump their waste here. Even Puducherry is regularly dumping garbage in Tamil Nadu,” rued environmental activist and Madras High Court lawyer T Mohan.
Another High Court advocate, S Elambharathi, reasoned, “In most cases of environmental violations, it was only treated as disobedience, rather than an offence. So, the courts usually end up releasing the accused persons after imposing a meager fine.”
“Only when stringent punishments like imprisonment are awarded for violating environment laws, will it act as a deterrent,” Elambharathi added.