The smoke emanating from continuous burning of solid waste at Kurumbapet has not only made life miserable but also poses an environmental hazard for the residents and other people serving in several institutions and organizations in the nearby area.
The Rajiv Gandhi College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, which is just 10 to 15 metres away from the dump yard, is being affected as the college premises is almost every time engulfed in smog. Students, faculty and other staff are faced with cough, burning and watering of eyes, said a faculty member. Staff, students and residents in surrounding area are suffering from acute respiratory, ophthalmic and cardiovascular discomfort, he added.
Initially the students abstained from classes hoping that it was a temporary phenomenon. The college also remained shut for four days, owing to this issue. But with the problem continuing for more than a year, they were forced to resume classes in the smoky environment.
PONLAIT, the cooperative milk society under the government, which prepares milk and milk products is exposed to unhygienic conditions due to the improper garbage disposal, thus inviting health hazard for consumers.
Municipalities had been dumping garbage in this site from August 2010. However, after a couple of months when the place was overflowing with waste, the garbage was burnt in a bid to do away with the waste.
It was stopped for a short time during mid 2011 on the insistence of the PWD Secretary, but the burning of garbage resumed again from the end of 2011.
Everything ranging from plastic to rubber and other substances contained in the solid waste is burnt in the site. “Highly toxic fumes with carcinogenic compounds are released into the air due to the burning of waste. This is being inhaled by the people as well as animals,” said a faculty member.
Though pollution control officials maintained that some people who do not want the Kurumbapet site to be used for dumping of municipal solid waste are deliberately setting it ablaze, nothing has been done to rectify it.
Others claim that it is the handiwork of the people who clear and dump the waste. The clearance of municipal solid waste and its dumping is being undertaken by private agencies to whom the work has been outsourced.
However, the official clarifies that it was not the handiwork of the team which is dumping the waste. Based on a complaint from Rajiv Gandhi College of Veterinary Sciences in 2012, the official said that a police complaint would be registered and it is for the police to investigate and find out who is behind it, but even then no such action was taken.
Even the fire service people who had gone there for more than 15 times to douse the flames, have mentioned the cause as an accident, often by a cigarette.
The burning of garbage is prohibited under municipal solid waste handling rules as well as Air Act of Environment Protection Act. “Even if the garbage is dumped, steps should be taken to prevent the burning of waste,” plead the affected people.