The State government’s move to establish a waste-to-energy plant in biodiversity-rich Peringamala has run into rough weather with a stiff opposition mounting against the proposed project.
Local residents and environmental activists have been in protest mode since the government had identified a plot of 15 acres (6.07 hectares) at the 7th block of the District Agricultural Farm in Peringamala for setting up one of the seven waste-to-energy plants that are planned in the State.
Similar plants have been proposed at Kureepuzha in Kollam, Aranattukara in Thrissur, Kanjikode in Palakkad, Njaliaparambu in Kozhikode, Panakkad in Malappuram, and Chelora in Kannur. The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation was appointed the nodal agency to undertake the project.
The move comes close on the heels of another controversial proposal to establish a biomedical waste treatment facility at Elavupalam in Peringamala.
However, vehement opposition by the local community and people’s representatives had forced the Indian Medical Association to reconsider its stance to establish the facility in the ecologically fragile region.
The preliminary steps to establish the proposed waste-to-energy plant have sparked protests in the region yet again with an action council being constituted to spearhead the agitation. The unilateral manner in which the project was being allegedly undertaken has irked the local community.
“No consultations have been held either with the Peringamala grama panchayat or with any sections of the society prior to identifying the particular land for the project. Besides, no feasibility study has been conducted. With efforts on to denotify the region as an ecologically sensitive area, there were reasons to suspect that the proposed project was long in the making,” Adarsh Prathap, a local resident and science filmmaker.
200 tonnes a day
He also pointed out that around 200 tonnes of waste, generated from across the district, was expected to be brought to the proposed facility daily.
Environmentalist S.J. Sanjeev alleged that efforts were being made to transform the area into an industrial hub with scant regard shown to the rich biodiversity in the region that was part of the Agasthyamala biosphere reserve. Moreover, concern was rife among a huge number of people, including several tribal families, that their primary source of drinking water, the Chittar river, which passed by less than 200 metres away from the proposed site, will be polluted with the leachate that could emanate from the waste yard.
Dismissing rumours of differences within the local body, Peringamala grama panchayat president P. Chithrakumari said that they stood firmly by the local residents and would protect their interests.
Referring to demands for issuing a resolution against the move, she said that the panchayat was yet to receive a formal communication from the government regarding the project.
Peringamala plant is one of the seven waste-to-energy plants planned in the State.
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