Thiruvananthapuram/Villapinsalla: As people of Villapinsalla village in Kerala slept, authorities moved new equipment to treat garbage at a treatment plant which the villagers had forcibly closed down last year.
The equipment was moved to the plant at 2.30 a.m.
Since August, the villagers had thwarted attempts by Thiruvanananthapuram Corporation and the Kerala government to move the equipment, despite over 2,500 policemen deployed at the village.
The government was recently pulled up by the Kerala High Court for not making arrangements to move the equipment to Villapinsalla plant.
The case will now be heard Oct 19 and Friday night's action has come as a face saver for the government.
"Over one lakh tonnes of garbage has accumulated in Villapinsalla. The new equipment will treat the garbage and will bring solace to the villagers. Our only aim is welfare of the people there and we do not want to put them in any more difficulty," Minister for Muncipalities M. Ali told reporters Saturday.
Located 15 km from the state secretariat, Villapinsalla's inhabitants have been up in arms after suffering for more than a decade since the plant was set up in the late 1990s by Thiruvananthapuram Corporation when the present CPI-M legislator V. Sivankutty was the mayor.
All the garbage from the state capital was dumped here. A private company was asked to convert the waste into manure. But due to lack of required technology, the wells, water bodies and the land area in and around the plant got polluted.
"We were here at the protest venue till 10.30 p.m. last night like we had been doing for the past several months. It was only in the wee hours that we came to know about this clandestine operation.
The state government should not have done this. We have called for a day-long shutdown in the village. I have begun an indefinite fast and at no cost will we allow the plant to be opened again," ," Villapinsalla local body president Valsala Kumari told reporters.
Following the protest, garbage has been piling up in Thiruvananthapuram. To make matters worse, the district collector has banned throwing waste in public places and violators are being heavily fined.
On Thursday, villagers near Sreekariyam stopped officials who came to see if they could start dumping waste in an unused granite quarry, which is now the drinking water source of the villagers.