Waste management project makes life messy

Foul smell, houseflies haunt Vengadamangalam families.

Chennai: Swarms of flies on food plates and foul stench killing appetite for good. This has been the plight of over 3000 families living close to the ‘integrated solid waste-processing plant’ at Vengadamangalam barely 10 kms from Tambaram on the southern outskirt of Chennai, for the last several months. The residents are paying the price for delivering hygiene for the luckier ones living up in the city’s southern suburbs, whose domestic garbage lands here for ‘treatment’.

Remember the Chironomous insect attack in Korattur, which drew the attention of the top bureaucrats and ministers in Tamil Nadu? In a similar plight, the residents of Vengadamangalam, who live near the plant, are now fighting against the houseflies.

The foul smell generated from the plant affects the residents of eight panchayats – Agaram, Madurapakkam, Ponmar, Mambakkam, Melakottaiyur, Nallampakkam and Vengadamangalam.

The representatives of the Vengadamangalam plant who have signed an agreement with the Pallavaram and Tambaram Municipalities promising to safeguard the environment of the village has failed to keep up their word. Maintaining hygiene, ensuring that the wastewater does not penetrate into the ground water and non-generation of smoke were few among the many promises mentioned in the agreement, say villagers. “Not even the Air Cooler is spared from the foul smell. The smell enters our rooms through ACs,” said a resident, who was once arrested for protesting against the ESSEL group, who owns the waste-to-energy project.

The villagers had apparently staged many protests against the management, which was hushed up by the police force. They had also pooled in money of Rs 2 lakh to fight a legal case filed against the group in the Madras High Court. “The ESSEL group promised that there would not be any foul smell as the wet waste will be heated and processed using chemicals, giving out fertilizers. But, the stench generated from the plant spreads to about a 3-Km radius,” said T Ravi, President of Vengadamangalam Village Panchayat, adding that not even 10% of the agreement is being followed.

A group of Irular Families who live next to the Vengadamangalam plant are the worst affected, as they had been suffering with a lot of health problems. The residents admitted to have seen an increase in the number of fever cases and respiratory problems, after the plant came into an effect. However, when Deccan Chronicle contacted the government hospitals in the locality, there was no positive response.

“As soon as we open the covered food, the flies get into the vessels. The plant has deprived us for an access to healthy food. After the plant came into effect, we have seen a rise in fever and cold cases,” said Raghu, a resident from the Irular Community.

The plant, which was proposed to treat 300 tones of Municipal Solid Waste per day to generate 2.9 MW of power, is not producing electricity. The Senior Executive - Liaison and Admin, Balaji refused to comment on the questions put forward by this correspondent as he said, “I'm not the one who is responsible for commenting on the current situation”

However, the manager of the plant, Manikandan told, “The gasification technology, being used to process the waste is a failure. It is the reason for the foul smell. We would change the technology soon, as we are expecting funds from the government in 20 days.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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