Thiruvananthapuram: It's a year since the Kerala government first started talk of setting up the most modern facilities to treat garbage. Despite frequent statements of intention, however, mounds of garbage continue to grow.
There are, at present, no scientific methods of waste disposal in place in the state. The police have been vigilant, registering cases against those who litter streets and public places. Even so, there is a stink in the air.
The rains have further complicated matters, and with stagnant water too collecting near garbage piles, dengue cases are on the rise.
"It's a year since I first proposed to the government of Kerala that we could put up a plant like the one we have in Mumbai here, which converts waste to electricity. We made another presentation to government authorities last week. We need a go-ahead, and we can set to work," says P.K. Devidas, representative of a Mumbai-based firm that has set up a waste treatment plant for the Pune Municipal Corporation.
A study on solid waste generated in the state conducted by the state-owned Suchitwa Mission revealed that about 8,300 tonnes of waste is generated each day in the state; nearly 80 percent of the total waste is biodegradable.
Thirteen percent of the waste is generated by the five city corporations, and 23 percent by the 53 municipalities; the rest is generated from the areas of the 999 gram panchayats in the state.
The mission, also the implementing agency for setting up waste treatment plants, has been entrusted the job of inviting tenders for such plants. The mission has now completed the procedure for setting up a waste treatment facility in the capital city, and has begun the pre-qualification process in other major cities of the state.
State Minister for Municipalities M. Ali said that a three-way strategy has been devised to tackle the garbage issue.
"We will set up two or three small plants in the city, the first is expected to be functional soon. We have begun the procedure for setting up five or six big treatment plants, and our third strategy is to form a new company, with 26 percent government stake and the rest in private hands. This company will be dedicated to waste treatment, and set up plants where necessary, so that garbage from homes, hospitals and industries can be treated," Ali said.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is confident that garbage won't be the subject of discussion for long: "The biggest problem is that the confidence of the people is low, because attempts made till now to treat waste have failed. I cannot blame the people for protesting when they hear that a waste treatment plant is planned in their neighbourhood. Given a little time, however, things will change. People will be able to see the plant at work once it is commissioned," Chandy said.