The dump fire smoke at Brahmapuram is suffocating the Kochi residents. The authorities woke up when the Kerala High Court took a suo moto cognisance, putting a mechanism into war-footing but the flames refuse to be doused even after eight days.
The court described Kochi as a gas chamber and passed strictures against the concerned agencies, including the corporation, government machinery and the state government.
A division bench scolded the officials, saying it only wanted a specific action plan to deal with the situation and was not interested in voluminous reports.
The court said cities, such as Hyderabad with a large number of industries, do not have so much smoke. It summoned the bosses of the Kochi corporation, ruled by the CPI-M, and the Kerala Pollution Control Board to be present in person with an action plan.
The stern warning led to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan holding an emergency meeting, which decided that no more plastic wastes would be dumped there. This has led to wastes piling up on the main roads, and the city stinks.
The crisis has caused a political turmoil in which allegations of underhand deals are being levelled against the government and the ruling party. The company that handles the plastic waste at the dump is owned by the son-in-law of CPI-M leader and former LDF convener Vaikkom Viswan.
Opposition parties allege the contract was given to the company in violation of norms and the company has failed to honour its commitments, but was being given repeated extensions due to political patronage.
There are also allegations that the plastic dump was deliberately set afire so the waste handling companies will have that much less waste to manage.
The company, Zonda Infratech, has no previous experience in waste management and even the quantities that the company is claiming to have processed show signs of improper handling.
Curiously, a waste dump in Kozhikode, which recently witnessed a fire, is also being managed by Zonda. The company has won similar contracts in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.
State BJP alleged the Vijayan's involvement in the scam and is demanding a probe by the central agencies.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)