Tamil Nadu's fear over Kerala's waste war

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Tamil Nadu's fear over Kerala's waste war

Saturday, 24 November 2018 | Kumar Chellappan | CHENNAI

Hot on the heels of the humiliation of Pon Radhakrishnan, Union Minister of State for Finance, Shipping and Surface Transport by a junior police official at Sabarimala on Wednesday where the former had gone for pilgrimage, Kerala has resumed the “waste war” on neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Officials of the Tamil Nadu Regional Transport Authority and the Department of Health on Thursday seized 27 trucks carrying hazardous hospital  and plastic waste from Kerala meant for dumping in Tirunelveli district. Local residents and people in Kerala are worried that this could be a kind of biological warfare by Kerala because of the callousness with which hazardous waste is dumped in Tamil Nadu.

The drivers of these trucks refused to divulge the details of the sources from where these wastes were brought to Tamil Nadu, said the Regional Transport officials.

“We found surgical wastes, used syringes medical dressings and expired drugs in the consignments. These wastes have the potential to cause Hepatitis A , B and  even AIDS, “ said S Senthil Kumar, deputy director, Health Services. He disclosed that  the department has taken enough steps to prevent the spreading of any contagious diseases from these wastes.

The Transport officials have slapped a tine of Rs 27 lakh on these vehicles and said that they would write to their counterparts in Kerala to cancel the permit of these vehicles. Local residents said that dumping of medical and hospital wastes generated in Kerala has become a major nuisance in Tirunelveli and surrounding areas.

“The hospitals in Kerala should set up arrangements to dispose their medical waste as per biomedical waste management rules. These  hospitals have chosen the easy way out by dumping it in Tamil Nadu,” said Senthil Kumar.  

Tamil Nadu farmers have been accusing Kerala of waging a waste war against them for quite sometime  nw. The Pioneer had reported in November 2016 about  seizure of  27 trucks laden with hospital and medical waste which were on their way to Coimbatore and Erode districts f Tamil Nadu. “The region was undergoing one of the worst farm crisis those days and the hospital owners in Kerala chose the villages in these districts to dump the waste. The hapless farmers were told by these agents that the waste would make the farm land fertile and  they fell for  their words. But we staged relentless campaign against such dumping and the Kerala people made a hasty retreat,” said G K Nagaraj, a farm leader from the South Western Tamil Nadu who staged a relentless campaign against dumping of toxic and hazardous hospital waste from Kerala.

He said since there was sufficient rain in the region , the farmers are back in their fields and they have formed committees to monitor the predators from Kerala who have now opted for the dry  lands  of southern Tamil Nadu.

Nandita Krishna, director, CPR environmental Foundation decried the attitude of Kerala hospitals. “Previously they were trans shipping truckloads of stray dogs from Kerala to Tamil Nadu. Kerala authorities should set up their own waste management system instead of dumping it in Tamil Nadu,” said Nanditha Krishna.

Social activists in Kerala blamed the State government and the local bodies for their failure in establishing waste management system. “Kerala, which is described as God’s Own Country has become Devils Own Hell. Residents dump their household waste in nearby alleys  without bothering about the inconvenience it causes to others,” said M S Giri, writer and social activist based at Thiruvananthapuram

PG Gopalakrishnan, a school teacher at Kottayam too echoed the words of Giri. “Even swanky cars are used to transport the waste including the waste from slaughter houses and dumped it near our residences. Since the operations take place during night hiurs, it is difficult to catch the culprits,” said Gopalakrishnan.

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