Brahmapuram site doesn’t conform to waste management rules, says HC-appointed panel


PTI, Mar 14, 2023, 8:06 PM IST

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Kochi: A committee constituted by the Kerala High Court has found that the waste treatment site at Brahmapuram here, where a massive fire broke out recently, doesn’t conform to the provisions of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.

The panel said the quantity of biodegradable waste brought to Brahmapuram may be reduced considering various factors, including the available area of a windrow plant in the site.

In its report submitted to the High Court on Monday, the committee said a major portion of a building has already collapsed and has been removed from the site.

The existing building situated at the site is in a dilapidated condition and may collapse at any stage, said the committee consisting of the Ernakulam district collector and top officials of various departments, including the local self government, the state pollution control board, Kochi corporation, and the district legal services authority.

The report said the committee was informed that due to the exorbitant cost involved in refurbishing the existing plant, the corporation has decided to construct a new windrow plant at Brahmapuram, and 10 acres of land were allocated for the project. The proposal is under the government’s consideration.

On the legacy waste being processed using biomining techniques, the panel observed that the capacity of the machinery/equipment placed at the site was not adequate for the completion of work within the stipulated timeframe.

The segregation and sorting of the legacy waste practised at the site are not in accordance with the provisions of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines for its management.

“No material-wise segregation has happened so far, and no magnetic separator and cyclonic/air density separator are made available. Because of this, Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) which is one of the main end products, is of inferior quality and, hence it is not accepted at cement factories,” it said.

The committee found that the RDF generated after the biomining process has not been transported from the Brahmapuram site.

“As per CPCB guidelines, the percentage of rejects should be less than 10 per cent but the rejects obtained is at least three times higher than the permissible limits, which is unacceptable,” it said.

The report further said the infrastructure made available is not adequate for treating non-biodegradable waste.

It also said the number of equipment now available at the site is not at all adequate to complete the biomining process within the time frame.

The capacity of equipment installed at the site is not at all sufficient to process the waste in the stipulated period, the report said.

“Based on the above mentioned facts, it is submitted that the site doesn’t conform to the provisions of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the District Collector and the Secretary, Cochin Municipal Corporation informed the court that the fire is completely contained and smouldering is not visible to the naked eye.

“By placing the statement on record, we notice that the first of the problems taken up by the suo motu writ petition is answered as stated by the officers,” a division bench of the High Court comprising Justices S V Bhatti and Basant Balaji noted.

To reach this stage, the HC said this court and the citizens of Cochin place on record their appreciation for discharging a herculean task of putting out the fire at the site at this time of the year by the personnel of the Fire department.

“We are conscious that either the failure to control the fire or allowing the fire to spread to the neighbourhood would have led to unimaginable consequences. We record our recognition, satisfaction, and appreciation to the Personnel of the Fire Department for all their efforts. We also record the same appreciation for the contribution of the Civil Defence Volunteers in putting out the fire,” the court said.

The court also directed the Director General, Kerala Fire and Rescue Services to convey its appreciation now placed on record to each one of the personnel who has worked without differentiating day and night.

“At the appropriate stage of the proceedings, this court would also observe suitable rewards and recognition by the State Government to the frontline firefighters,” it added.

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