VILLUPURAM: Everything has changed for Perambai villagers in the past decade ever since a garbage dumpyard was shifted to an empty land near their houses. Now, their relatives are reluctant to visit the village fearing the unbearable stink emanating from the yard. They cannot keep the doors and windows in their houses open as the swarm of flies from the yard will occupy their kitchen and the food. They say the groundwater in the hamlet is contaminated too.
Perambai is a hamlet in Villupuram district sharing its border with Puducherry. About 500 people are residing in Perambai and its nearby hamlets. The Union Territory government shifted the dumpyard to an empty land, which falls under Puducherry limits, near Perambai a decade ago. Ever since the issues faced by the villagers have only multiplied. Now, they have demanded that the State authorities take steps to relocate the yard by holding talks with Puducherry officials.
"My house is situated close to the compound wall of the dumpyard. We approached the then rulers and officials in Puducherry when they started dumping garbage here, but they said we can't stop them as the land fell under Puducherry limits. We can't keep anything open, especially food items and water, as the flies from the dumpyard squat on them. Sometimes, they come in swarms and completely cover the food. Birds pick meat waste from the yard and throw them in the village," said K Balaji, a resident of Perambai.
The villagers said that they have unwelcome visitors in insects and mosquitoes. "Guests rarely visit our village as it is stinky throughout the year. It's even worse during rainy days when we can't even open the doors and windows as doing so would attract more insects," they said.
"Ever since the garbage yard was opened, the groundwater has also been contaminated. Despite the village panchayat digging new borewells, we still don't get the good water that we used to get. Rainwater gathers in a small pond inside the yard, which infiltrates the groundwater. Now, the garbage heaped here has reached a height of 3-4 storeyed building. However, no action has been taken to segregate and clear them, even though we have raised several complaints with the Puducherry officials," said D Prabagaran of the village.
The villagers said that sometimes workers set fire to the garbage, and the smoke billowing out caused breathing difficulties. If approached seeking inquiry, the staff there would put the blame on waste pickers or village youths. The Puducherry officials even lodged a police complaint against the villagers regarding the fire, they said.
"We raised the issue with former Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi, who visited the spot and gave some instructions to officials, of which we came to know through the news as we were not allowed to meet her during her inspection. But we don't know what happened after that as the garbage dumping has only increased day by day. Two weeks ago, a villager raised this issue with Tamil Nadu opposition party leader MK Stalin (DMK president), during his campaign meeting at Villupuram. Based on his assurance of taking up the issue with the then Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, the next day DMK MLA R Siva from Puducherry visited our village and the dumpyard and assured us of action. But, now that Narayanasamy has resigned after his government collapsed, we don't expect any action in this regard in the near future," said a villager, on condition of anonymity.
The locals further said that Covid-19 pandemic only worsened their fears, especially during its peak days. They said they can't relocate as they had been living there for generations. They requested Tamil Nadu government officials to hold talks with their Puducherry counterparts and take action to relocate the dumpyard as soon as possible.