Waste Management

With waste management posing a major challenge in Kochi, especially in the light of the recent spate of fire outbreaks, the city corporation has decided to halt waste collection from houses and commercial outlets for about a week. The City Corporation took the decision following objection from residents of Vadavucode-Puthencruz panchayat near the Brahmapuram waste management plant, where a massive fire outbreak happened last week.

Considering the reports that Brahmapuram plant receives about 120 tonnes of plastic waste and a minimum of 250 tonnes of organic waste per day, residents were apprehensive how would Kochi handle tonnes of garbage that will be piled up in the coming days.

According to Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain, waste movement in the city will be halted for about a week. “We cannot blame the residents of Vadavucode-Puthencruz panchayat for their fury over the issue. Until we install some mechanism to prevent further fire outbreaks at Brahmapuram, there are no other options to resume waste collection in city,” Mayor Soumini Jain told TNM.

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“We understood that storing waste will be a problem for the residents, especially organic waste. But we have no other option other than asking people to corporate for some days,” said Mayor.

Residents of Vadavucode-Puthencruz panchayat along with panchayat officials started to block trucks carrying garbage to Brahmapuram following the recurrent fire at the plant, putting the lives of people there at risk.

“Five fire outbreaks happened at Brahmapuram in the last month with the last one being fierce. Even after multiple fire outbreaks, corporation officials did not show any interest to install fire fighting mechanisms at the plant. If they had taken the matter seriously after two incidents, the massive fire could have been averted,” the panchayat President, Velayudhan PK told TNM.

Even though corporation officials promised residents in the area that they will only resume the plant after installation of proper fire fighting mechanisms, panchayat officials allege that 19 loads of waste was dumped on Tuesday night at Brahmapuram.

Commercial outlets in the city also expressed concerns about the Corporation halting waste collection. “We can manage storing plastic waste; however, storing organic waste will not only be difficult but can also pose health issues and affect our work,” said Oliver, owner of catering outlet in the city.

Residents near the plant also told TNM that they will start protests if the Corporation did not stick to their word of installing fire fighting mechanism.

During the recent fire outbreak at Brahmapuram plant last Friday, the fire and rescue officials faced a big challenge in putting out the fire as huge piles of garbage hindered the movement of the fire engines.

“We have decided to segregate large heaps of garbage into smaller units, so that firefighting vehicles can move around and access the spot of fire during such emergency situations,” added Mayor Soumini.

Residents living near the plant had shifted from their houses when fire broke out at the plant recently. The smoke blanket following the fire had also affected most parts of the city.