While on one hand, Chennai Corporation has collected an estimated amount of INR 24 lakh from the imposition of penalty on open garbage dumping (The Hindu, 2021), the same entity is ironically a contributor to a growing garbage mound in Pallavaram. This is of serious concern. Chennai has been confronted with the problem of waste management for decades now. Despite initiatives of the Corporation like open dumping penalty and collaborative efforts by tying up with Spanish company Urbaser Sumeet to better manage solid waste, the problem of accumulation of garbage and an overall reduction in waste has not been addressed. Starting with Pallavaram, the pertinent questions are what is the situation in Pallavaram, how did it come to grow as an open dump, and what are steps to be undertaken to clean the same.
Close to 150 metric tonnes of garbage per day is reported to have been dumped along the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam radial road (MD, 2022). This is how sadly a trash mountain comes into existence. It is even sadder to know that the trash mountain is growing in the middle of a road in an urbanized center that commuters use day in and day out.
It has to be noted that this is not the first time Pallavaram is confronted with this issue. A couple of years ago, garbage was dumped daily on the Thoraipakkam-Pallavaram radial road. This garbage dumped daily on the radial road was shifted to the Vengadamangalam dump yard every week. However, owing to protests from the local residents, it was closed and consequently, garbage began to accumulate on the radial road. The Vengadamangalam dump was closed in the direction of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). In light of the same, the District Collector of Chengalpattu (though Pallavaram now comes under Tambaram jurisdiction) ordered for the garbage to be relocated from the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam road to Aapur on a daily basis. This initiative, it provided a decent model for waste management whereby the waste is at least not dumped on the road causing a roadblock.
It is unfortunate that the same mistake has repeated itself with the recent dumping at the radial road. It is a breeding ground for diseases and health hazards alongside making the entire environment look unpleasant.
Figure 1 captures the growing garbage mound at Pallavaram. The waste dumped in the region comes largely from the nearby interior locations of Pallavaram and Pallikarnai.
Figure 1: Garbage mound at Pallavaram
Source: Times of India (MD, 2022)
One of the biggest challenges Pallavaram faces is the lack of infrastructure to segregate garbage and manage the waste. This was the reason why initially the garbage had to be sent to the Vengadamangalam dump. Even though there were promises made to set up incinerators in Pallavaram to manage the waste efficiently, it has not yet come into operation. As of May 2022, according to news reports, activists have voiced that neither segregation is carried out by the Greater Chennai Corporation nor there is sufficient manpower and infrastructure to carry out the same in Pallavaram. These challenges further aggravate the situation in Pallavaram.
What can be done?
Firstly, there must be efforts taken by the State Government to ensure no local district corporations fail in their duty to keep the city clean while discharging their daily functions. Like how penalties are imposed on the residents and local public for dumping garbage in the open, the same must be done at the district level against local authorities in order to bring accountability and transparency to the entire system. Thirdly, the urban local bodies must be entrusted with the task of finding regions to safely discard and dispose of waste. One of the primary root causes of the creation of waste mounds is poor city planning. If cities are well-planned, then the allocation of land resources and other natural resources would be well-distributed. Further, more investments should flow into solid waste management technology. Lastly and most importantly, every person should work towards reducing waste. The state must bring awareness about solid waste management among the public and set targets for reducing the per capita waste generated in the State. From these initiatives, not only will Pallavaram become clean, but the entire State.
AHMED, M. (2021, April 28). Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam road dump yard closed for good || Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam road dump yard closed for good. dtnext. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from https://www.dtnext.in/city/2021/04/28/pallavaramthoraipakkam-road-dump-yard-closed-for-good
Chennai Corporation imposes Rs 13.85 lakh fine on those dumping garbage in open | Chennai News – Times of India. (2022, May 6). Times of India. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/chennai-corporation-imposes-rs-13-85-lakh-fine-on-those-dumping-garbage-in-open/articleshow/91376951.cms
The Hindu. (2021, October 27). Chennai Corporation collects ₹26.4 lakh in fines for dumping of garbage, debris in public. The Hindu. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-corporation-collects-264-lakh-in-fines-for-dumping-of-garbage-debris-in-public/article37185941.ece MD, O. (2022, May 3). pallavaram: ‘garbage On Pallavaram Radial Road A Health Risk’ | Chennai News – Times of India. Times of India. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/garbage-on-pallavaram-radial-road-a-health-risk/articleshow/91272680.cms