Kerala govt offers to shut waste treatment plant

Bowing once again before the people of Vilappilsala, a village on the outskirts of the state’s capital city of Trivandrum, the Kerala government has offered to shut down the City Corporation’s waste treatment plant in the village.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Urban Affairs Minister Manjlamkuzhi Ali made this offer through government mediators, famous poet Sugathakumari and well known Gandhian P Gopinathan Nair on Monday.

However, the People’s Action Council has refused to end the agitation they launched after the government smuggled in a leachate treatment plant into the dump-yard under the cover of darkness on Saturday until they got a written order. Council convenor S Burhan said the fast unto death launched by Vilappilsala village council president Shobhana Kumari and the indefinite shutdown strike will continue until the city corporation withdrew its petition in the state high court seeking police protection to operate the plant.

“We had received several assurances in the past over solving the health hazards caused by the plant but the city corporation and the government never implemented them. We are not ready to believe anybody in this case”, he added.

Sugathakumari, who met the council leaders after talks with the government, pointed out the difficulty of the government in giving a written order on an issue pending in the court. She said she will also talk to City Mayor and Communist Party of India - Marxist state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and urge them to withdraw the petition when the case comes up for hearing on October 19.

It is not clear whether the court will allow the government to close down the plant at Vilappilsala without alternate arrangements. Though the government tried to dump the waste in the rock quarries in different parts of the district the move was abandoned following resistance from the local people.

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