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HomeNews Reports#GodsOwnTrash: Netizens voice their anger as Brahmapuram landfill in Kerala burns for 12 days,...

#GodsOwnTrash: Netizens voice their anger as Brahmapuram landfill in Kerala burns for 12 days, here is what happened

The extended effort to put out the Brahmapuram landfill fire has underscored the outdated waste management practices undertaken by the CPM government in Kerala.

The Kerala government has proclaimed victory over the large-scale fire, the cause of which is still unknown, and the poisonous vapours that many fear may have slowly poisoned the city of Kochi and its outskirts. The fire started at the solid waste treatment facility in Brahmapuram on March 2, and it has been burning for the last twelve days.

Since March 2, the fires that were playing hide-and-seek in the vast garbage “dumping yard” forced the firemen of the Fire and Rescue Services and other organisations to work day and night to contain them. The blatant mishandling of Kochi’s mounting garbage problems has been exposed by the outbreak and the stretched control effort though the fire now has been put out. Massive protests erupted in the city of Kochi on Sunday owing to the fire which led to toxic fumes degrading the air quality.

According to the reports, the Air Quality Index as of Sunday was above 200 and officials in the pollution control board had said that it might cross 300. While locals have already complained of respiratory illnesses, several other residents living in the city have also moved out to other places owing to the health hazards.

Also, Mammootty, a well-known Malayalam actor, has asked the authorities to take the appropriate action since the garbage plant’s poisonous smoke is wreaking havoc on the environment. Mohanlal, another well-known actor, also commented on how terrible the environmental catastrophe is. Mammootty addressed the media and admitted that the terrible air quality was keeping him up at night. The well-known actor also acknowledged that he has been coughing and having breathing issues. On the other hand, actor Mohanlal has also requested the government to find out a permanent solution.

Netizens slam Kerala government over the fire in Brahmapuram landfill

Netizens on social media condemned the government over the incident and demanded the implementation of strict measures. Trending the hashtag #GodsOwnTrash which illuminated from ‘God’s own country’, a popular attribute by which the state of Kerala is known, netizens said that the CPM government was silent over the matter and not even a single leader was speaking against the mismanagement.

“The entire commie army is silent over the Brahmapuram Disaster. Not even a single commie in Kochi has spoken against the mismanagement, while their own family is suffocating. But Pinarayi Vijayan govt is adopting dog in the manger attitude towards NDMA,” said one of the netizens.

Another one said, “Through the Brahmapuram fumes, the real scam of the CPIM government is coming into light.”

A Hindu activist also commented on the issue and said that the state government should make public his meeting with company Zonta Infratech which is at the centre of a series of controversies since the fire broke out.

“For more than 10 days smoke from Brahmapuram waste plant is killing people. Kerala CM should reveal his previous meetings with the owner of Zonta company which stands suspicious in this case. Unless CM himself will be considered as first accused,” he said.

Brahmapuram landfill fire in Kerala

The National Institute of Technology (NIT), Kozhikode had surveyed to estimate that around 5.5 lacks cubic meters of legacy waste had heaped over 40.25 acres of land at the Brahmapuram plant by 2022. Reports mention that the survey was conducted by the NIT before Zonta Infratech was assigned the task to bio-mine the legacy waste. The company Zonta Infratech has been at the centre of a series of controversies and political allegations after the fire breakout.

Biomining is an environmentally beneficial process that turns waste products from dump yards into usable resources. The Kochi Corporation began moving the city’s trash to the facility in 2007, which is when the enormous legacy waste at Brahmapuram first appeared. As the state government intervened and took over the site’s solid waste management from the Kochi Corporation, biomining was necessary at the factory. The main issue affecting the site, according to the authorities, is legacy garbage.

Zonta began the biomining process on January 15 and planned to complete the task of recovering the dumpsite land in 18 months while also digging, separating, sorting, collecting, storing, and selling recoverable items from the legacy trash. Around 28% of the work was finished, according to the government. On March 2, 2023, the largest and longest fire in Brahmapuram’s horrific history of summer fires broke out. It is unknown how much additional work Zonta would have accomplished between the government report’s release and the nine-month mark. Unsettling images from the site, including waste heaps that appear to be older than years, indicate that there is still a lot of work to be done.

In 1998, the Kochi Metropolitan area purchased land for a garbage disposal facility in the Vadavukode-Puthencruz panchayat. To dispose of its garbage, the corporation sought out a new dump site. Cheranalloor and Willingdon Island existed before Brahmapuram. People objected at Cheranalloor, and the Navy later cancelled authorization to dump waste there in 2006 because the birds that nibbled on the garbage were messing with their flights.

The existence of the Brahmaputra and its inhabitants was in jeopardy the next year when the Corporation began disposing of trash at the site it held at Chellipadam, a rice field. When trash accumulated around the city, the High Court urged the Corporation to use the Brahmapuram facility. On January 1, 2007, the high court issued a directive stating that the aforementioned area must be utilized for dumping or storage of trash until a permanent waste disposal plant is developed and made functioning at Brahmapuram. 

The Kochi Corporation has been maintaining the yard without any authorization from the Kerala State Pollution Control Board since April 30, 2010. Approximately, 206 tonnes of waste is dumped at Brahmapuram a day, the government’s report submitted before the NGT noted.

The fire however has exposed the blatant mishandling of Kochi’s mounting garbage problems and the stretched control effort though the fire now has been put out. Reports mention that the Congress-led Opposition has demanded a CBI probe into the fire incident at the Brahmapuram plant. The opposition leaders also believe that the garbage was deliberately set on fire as the contractor had failed to clear the waste pile.

The tragedy has raised doubts about the project’s future ambitions as well as the biomining work. According to reports, it is regrettably the result of poor planning, ineffectiveness, poor administration, and—most importantly—obvious but unsubstantiated corruption.

Up to 800 individuals have so far sought medical attention, and on Tuesday, a doorstep health survey shall start, according to state health minister Veena George. “We will identify people who are affected by the smoke and start treatment,” she said. All hospitals have been instructed by the government to treat patients who present with respiratory issues as their first priority. However, the Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan is still silent.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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