Chennai: The recent state budget has allotted Rs 7000 crore to Solid Waste Management in order to clean the city’s menace. The lion’s share of the fund will be used for the remediation and reclamation of existing landfills in Kodungaiyur and Perungudi and also for establishing the newly proposed waste to energy plants.
However, lack of segregation in the dump can cast a negative shadow to the projects. According to the solid waste department of the corporation, the city generates close to 3,200 tonnes of garbage on a daily basis. This is collected from 15 zones and split between the two dump yards.
A hub of Chennai’s garbage, Kodungaiyur has not only piled up with plastic and degradable waste but also waste from hospital and clinics despite strict biomedical waste management norms in place. Laws state biomedical waste should not be disposed along with municipal solid waste, but with several companies responsible for the treatment of such waste shut down due to violation of safety norms, the authorities have thrown caution to the wind!
A study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board found that only 50-55 per cent of biomedical waste is collected, segregated and treated as per Biomedical Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011, while the rest is dumped with municipal solid wastes in the country. The rag pickers use second-hand gloves and shoes from the garbage to segregate biomedical wastes . They do not have money for proper diagnosis despite many fearing they might be sick from exposure to such waste.
The similar situation has been observed in Perungudi dump yard too. Located on a 200-acre area and eight metres above mean sea level, the landfill has six million cubic metres of municipal solid waste. According to a study, 68 percent of the solid waste generated is residential waste, 14 percent is institutional waste and 2 percent industrial waste. The rest of the dump consists of non biodegradable substances.
E-wastes also poke their way into these dump yards. As per the studies , India is ranked 5th in the world among top e-waste producing countries along with USA,China, Japan and Germany. Most of the residential wastes dumped in Kodungaiyur and Perungudi consist of of e-wastes such as computers, screens, smartphones, tablets and TVs, with other household appliances.
The proximity to the dump sites has created a lot of issues to the residents. Most of the people have reported skin allergies and breathing difficulties. As the groundwater gets contaminated due to the leachate from the garbage, water from bore wells becomes undrinkable. Hence, people are heavily depended on metro water services.
The ultimate objective of Municipal Administration and the Water supply department on the issue is to ensure ‘zero waste‘ by adopting the concept of reduce, reuse and recycle.