A dump-yard in the Gudalur Municipality in the Nilgiris districts could well be an open invitation for man-wildlife conflict in the area.
The Municipality with 50,000 residents generates nearly 20 tonnes of waste each day. The dump yard at Selukudi near Devarshola is a four-acre plot close to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve that doubles up as an elephant migration corridor.
The foul smell emanating from the dump invariably attracts elephants to the area which is not secured by either walls or fencing.
It is bad enough that the health of these gentle giants can be irrevocably harmed by regular consumption of such toxic waste, but even worse is the irreversible damage to the ecologically sensitive Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
Such blatant violation of the law can attract penalties under the Environmental Protection Act with the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and the District Collector responsible for the enforcement of the same.
The New Indian Express had earlier reported that the Gudalur Municipality took to dumping its waste near the elephant corridor as an escape route from a fiat issued by the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordering it to stop dumping waste at Thorapalli and Chelukkadi.
The erring Municipality is also guilty of violating the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules (Schedule II and III) by sheer non-compliance.
While Schedule II relates to the collection, segregation, storage, transportation, processing and disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW), Schedule-III is linked to land-filling which includes site-selection, facilities at the site, pollution prevention etc.
The forest department too has failed to act against the Municipality. Forest Ranger R Selvaraj had told Down to Earth that it is not easy to keep animals away from the garbage dump.
‚ÄúThe dump-yard is adjacent to lush vegetation where elephants usually feed. However, with food remnants in the dump including that of the jackfruit (which holds a strong alluring smell for elephants), it is proving to be a herculean task. We cannot deploy forest guards around the dump-yard 24x7,‚ÄĚ he reportedly said.