Smoke emanating from continuous burning of solid waste at Kurumbapet has made life miserable for residents of the area and is proving to be an environmental hazard not only for residents of Puducherry, but also the adjoining villages in Tamil Nadu.
Residents of Perambai, Gopalantharai, Vadapattampalayam and Nadupalayam villages under Vanur taluk of Villupuram district on Monday staged a road blockade on Vazhuvathur road protesting the environment degradation caused by burning of garbage at Kurumbapet. Revenue officials from Vanur taluk along with Puducherry police met the residents and pacified them. After talks the agitation was withdrawn.
Earlier in August 2010, the Puducherry and Oulgaret municipalities had allotted the place for dumping garbage. But unfortunately for the residents, burning of municipal solid waste is being carried out in some patches, to reduce the amount of garbage that is collecting. The burning of garbage is prohibited under Municipal Solid Waste Handling rules as well as within the Air Act of Environment Protection Act.
Unfortunately, the place has no environmental clearance even for dumping of garbage, being very close to water bodies, the Ousteri tank as well as the aquifers, which serves as a potable drinking water source for the nearby towns. Pondicherry Pollution Control Committee (PPCC) has also not taken any action, despite complaints, owing to the non-availability of an alternate site for disposal of garbage.
However, Puducherry Environment Protection Association had moved the High Court against the government and now the matter is pending before the National Green Tribunal.
Meanwhile, Puducherry government had floated tenders recently for selecting a bidder for entrusting the solid waste management task . “Even when the issue is in court, how could the government float a tender for using the site for solid waste management,” asks Irrisappan of the Association.
There has been objections to the burning from not only residents but even Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary and Animal sciences, which had given complaint to Pondicherry Pollution Control Committee in 2012 and also to Lieutenant Governor subsequently.
“From plastic to rubber and other substances contained in the solid waste are also burnt. Highly toxic fumes with carcinogenic compounds substances are released into the air due to burning which is being inhaled by the people as well as animals”, said a faculty member of the college.
Though officials of PPCC maintained that some people, who do not want the Kurumbapet site to be used for dumping of waste are deliberately setting it ablaze. Others claim that it is the handiwork of the people who clear and dump the waste, which is being carried out by private agencies to whom the work has been outsourced.