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GS-III :
  • 20 July, 2020

  • 5 Min Read

Legacy waste: Brahmapuram Dumping Site

Legacy waste: Brahmapuram Dumping Site

GS-PAPER-3 Environment: Solid waste

Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued an order pertaining to the case of legacy waste (old municipal solid waste) piling up at the Kochi Corporation’s Brahmapuram dumpsite.

The NGT Judgement:

  • The Chairman and Member Secretary of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) will be held liable if they fail to initiate prosecution and recover compensation from those responsible for the unscientific handling of waste at Brahmapuram.
  • The progress (remediation of waste) appears to be very slow and is disregardful of the statutory and constitutional obligation of providing a clean environment.
  • Further, the tribunal asked why there should be a bar on a single tender considering the critical situation.
  • The government decided to float fresh tenders as only one agency had met the minimum eligibility criteria when an e-tender for biomining of legacy waste at Brahmapuram was floated on 20th March, 2020.
  • The Bench suggested that other available options (besides biomining) be considered for compliance with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • The tribunal expressed doubts on whether the leachate (dark liquid that gets generated within the solid waste) generated at the dumping yard could be treated in an ordinary septage treatment plant as it contained heavy metals.

Brahmapuram Dumpsite:

  • Only 1% of the recyclable plastic waste is recovered while the remaining 99% ends up as heaps in the dumping yard.
  • The leachate from the waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram is a major source of pollution of the river Kadambrayar.
  • Legacy waste was found to be a reason for the fire outbreaks. In 2020, the government took over the task of scientific management of legacy waste accumulated at Brahmapuram waste dumping yard from the Kochi corporation by invoking the provision under Section 24(e) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Municipal Solid Waste Management

  • Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Management is one of the most serious challenges to environment protection and although Solid Waste Management Rules have been framed in 2016, their implementation remains a problem.
  • The local authorities are responsible for the development of infrastructure for collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of MSW.
  • There are two major challenges of solid waste management:
    Managing the continuous flow of solid waste on a daily basis.

Dealing with the legacy of neglect which has resulted in garbage heaps having built at dumpsites that were meant for waste processing and landfills.

  • In July 2019, the NGT directed that each local body would have to pay a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh per month (for population of above 10 lakh); Rs. 5 lakh a month (for population between 5 lakh and 10 lakh), and Rs. 1 lakh per month for other local bodies for non-compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 from 1st April, 2020 till compliance.
  • This compensation is equally applicable to local bodies found erring on the issue of remediation of legacy waste (to be completed by 7th April, 2021 statutorily).
  • If local bodies are unable to bear financial burden, the liability will be of state governments to take remedial action against the erring bodies.
  • An environment monitoring cell may be set up in the office of chief secretaries of all states/UTs for compliance.
  • Remediation process is expected to be done as per the guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Remediation of waste will help in unlocking the land occupied by waste sites which then can be used for setting up of biodiversity parks/buffer zones. Some parts can even be monetized. Further, protecting the environment is a constitutional mandate. Kochi needs to learn from success stories of urban local bodies like Thiruvananthapuram corporation, which is bigger in terms of population but is effectively managing waste with hundreds of Thumboormuzhy bins, material recovery centres and a mobile application.

Source: TH


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