Kerala dumps its waste, does not collect it
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For months now, mounds of garbage have been piling up in public places across Kerala, from the capital to district headquarters to scores of small municipal towns.
This is happening in a state that topped the Indian Human Development Report of 2011 with high scores in health, income and education, and which in 1996 pioneered decentralised planning at three-tier local bodies. It is these local bodies that are now struggling with solid waste management amid local resistance at the traditional garbage yards.
Waste removal at source, including from houses, has stopped for six months in Thiruvananthapuram after people at Vilappil, the capital's garbage yard since 2001, shut the door on waste. And dumping has stopped for four months also in Laloor near Thrissur, the centre of Kerala's oldest battle over garbage, where locals have been agitating since 1988.
The government has won a Supreme Court order allowing opening of the dumping yard at Vilappil but has not proceeded for fear of resistance. Admits Thiruvananthapuram mayor T Chandrika, "Definitely, politics is involved in the deadlock. We want to reopen the Vilappil yard. Why can't the government implement the Supreme Court order?"
The government faces a similar struggle at many places, particularly Kollam, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Kozhikode, Thalassery and Kannur, besides Thrissur.
As a result, the Kerala resident's fastidious attention to personal hygiene and his tradition for movements against industrial pollution and deforestation, such as the legendary Silent Valley agitation, has not been reflecting in the upkeep of his surroundings. With waste no longer being collected from his house, he has been dumping it in public places or burying it in small pits.
The monsoon has made it worse. Human waste is frequently being seen in paddy fields and farmlands near residential areas. Contractors who pump waste out of septic tanks into tanker trucks have been flushing it out in open spaces or roadside drains.
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