Sustainable ad-hoc governance – Kerala Style!!

24th September, 2014

I am coming from a live news room discussion from Manorama News a prominent news channel in Malayalam.  Issue? It is same – Garbage.

Flashback : The model waste management facility at Vilappilsala by Corporation of Thiruvananthapuram got shut down by local people following long 8 years struggles and strikes. For last two years waste is not moving out from the city and it is getting managed through ‘ad-hoc’ facilities.  The Corporation realized that their waste management plant is failing since 2006 but were managing it with ‘ad-hoc’ strategies till 2011!

The newly sworn in UDF Government promised ‘most (or post)’ modern technology for solid waste management 2 years back and for the time being they are doing ‘ad-hoc’ management.  The recommended ‘most modern’ technologies were mobile incineration which is about 50 years old and Waste to energy which is about 15 years old! Both of these technologies were tried and invariably failed miserably around the world and still our Government managed to find this ‘most modern’ technologies for us! What an idea sirji !?

In 1998 we advised the Government and authorities that proposed centralized mixed waste composting facility will not be successful and it will die over a period of 10 years for technical as well as location problems. We were wrong.  The plant which started in 2000 failed in 2006.  We were recommending decentralized, segregated treatment of discards. And even we went ahead and showcased pilot projects.

In 2011, the experts discovered that there is a brilliant technology named – cold mineralization which will be one shot solution for waste. This technology exists in Germany.  We warned them that it is a myth and no such technology operates at commercial level.  The officers went ahead and visited Germany and came back empty handed.

In 2012  we gave warning to Kerala Suchitwa Mission – the agency responsible for technical support and advice for State and local self Governments in Kerala – on their proposal to dispose the mixed solid waste in abandoned granite quarries and using mixed municipal solid waste as ‘filling material’ for constructing railway platforms.

Fortunately they didn’t venture to stuff the quarries with waste since the resistance from public was strong. But they could convince Divisional Railway Manager – Thiruvananthapuram of Southern Railway.  The experts recommended construction of railway platforms with waste as an ad-hoc measure for managing existing waste.  We warned that it is unsafe and it will be a disaster. Now it proved right.

They have done this stuffing business in Veli Railway Station too. And Proposals were on for repeating the same at Parassala, Balaramapuram, Chirayinkil, Kadakkavoor and some stations near Kottayam.

Today on the issue of leachates from the Railway platform built with municipal solid waste contaminating the open wells in the region came up as an example for the failure of ‘ad-hoc’  management.  The hon’ble Minister for urban affairs states that presence of ammonia in open well cannot be attributed to the waste. If it is so he will ensure that people will get facilities for drinking water. He claims that the experts advised him that Ammonia will not occur from a waste landfill.  Either the Experts are fools or they are fooling the Minister. Any landfill leachate will have ammonia. The filtrate coming out of a mixed waste dump or landfill will be a thick liquid which is black in color and will be a toxic cocktail of heavy metals and organic compound besides ammonia.

People experienced this water pollution just one week back.  But the pollution was on for atleast last 6 months. The cement tiles paved on the platform were displaced upwardly indicating the escaping gases. Nobody knows what is this gases are and what kind of impact already made in that region.

In 2013 the experts recommended to use mobile incinerators for burning existing waste as an ‘ad-hoc’ measure. Again we warned them with the possible dangers, and economic burden. The machine which they bought for about 220 million rupees, which drank about 70 litres of diesel for burning just 1 tonne of waste in couple of hours, failed miserably 3 months back. And now it is being shifted to another Local Self Government in the district of Malappuram.

The Minister kept silent on the accountability of the ‘Experts’ and officials who committed this crime.  It was a crime since it was against Municipal Solid Waste Management and Handling Rules 2000. It was a crime since it was against Water Act. The impact of this crime is now on the local people especially women and children.

It is supposed to be democracy.  No consultation with public on all these experiments. Still the Minister claim that he went ahead with the idea of stuffing platforms with waste based on the assurance of the experts and scientists.  This is the same experts who failed the Government and people by misleading with their ‘science’.  Do we still rely upon them for advice?

Will the Divisional Railway Manager, Executive Director – Suchitwa Mission, Chairman – Pollution Control Board, Mangalapuram Panchayath, Circle Inspector of Police or the Member of Parliament and Member of Legislative Assembly who inaugurated this platform will held liable / responsible for this?

Will anyone of them get a punishment? Atleast a show – cause notice?

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