Report by the KSPCB on a solid waste dump yard at Kureepuzha, Kollam district, Kerala, 10/10/2020
Report filed by the Environmental Engineer, Kerala State Pollution Control Board in application no. 439 of 2013 (SZ) (Chandran Pillai & Others vs Union of India & Others).
Matter and history of the case:
There is an abandoned solid waste dump yard at Kureepuzha. The dump yard is situated amidst residential buildings and two temples and a part of the dump yard is located on the banks of Ashtamudi lake. Waste dumping was discontinued around 2012 due to public protest. The petitioners were aggrieved by the unscientific construction, management and operation of the waste management facility of Kollam Corporation at Kureepuzha. The case was originally filed before the High Court of Kerala in 2012 and thereafter it was transferred to the NGT.
The NGT order September 24, 2018 directed the Kollam Corporation to deal with the legacy waste scientifically in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. The state of Kerala and the Corporation informed the court on October 29, 2018 that an area measuring about 2.85 acres had been identified for establishment of an integrated solid waste treatment plant at Kureepuzha.
The applicant submitted that the site proposed for establishing the integrated solid waste treatment plant was a prt of the entire 16 acres of land in which the dumping yard in question is also situated. It was further stated by the applicant that the site is in the midst of thickly inhabited area and therefore would not be suitable for establishment of the integrated solid waste treatment plant.
The NGT directed the state of Kerala and the Corporation to identify within a period of 30 days a site suitable for establishment of the integrated solid waste treatment plant in accordance with the siting criteria. The Corporation was also asked to ensure that the action plan with specific timeline to deal with the legacy waste be filed within the same period. The NGT further directed the state of Kerala and the Kollam Corporation to deposit a performance guarantee of Rs. 2 crores with the Kerala State Pollution Control Board within a period of ten days. Failure to comply with this direction would entail penalty of Rs. 50 lakhs each upon the state of Kerala and the Corporation apart from forfeiture of the Performance Guarantee. Also a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh would be imposed for each day of delay beyond the 30 days until the site is identified and the action plan with the timeline submitted before the NGT.
During the next hearing February 25, 2019 the NGT observed that the impediment in dealing with the disposal of solid waste generated in the Corporation area was the difficulty in identifying a suitable area for setting up integrated solid waste treatment plant. Accordingly, a decentralised solid waste treatment plant was considered.
The Corporation informed the court that the land for setting up of waste to energy plant was handed over to Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), the nodal agency for integrated solid waste treatment plant. The Board had also reported that the 7 acres of land identified within the total area of 17 acres at Kureepuzha was suitable for setting up of the WTE plant. The Corporation also submitted that an action plan to quantify the dispose the legacy waste was obtained from M/s Suraj Bhumi Bio Gas Limited. As per the action plan submitted by the company, the waste could be quantified and disposed of in six months approximately by adopting emission free pyrolysis technology of waste to energy provided by M/s Global Green International Investment Pvt. Ltd., Singapore.
In view of the above factual position, the NGT directed the Corporation to ensure that the work for disposal of the legacy waste be completed within the scheduled period of six months and the decentralised solid waste treatment plant be completed within that period and made operational.
On December 11, 2019 the Corporation submitted that the contractor had not carried out the work of bio-mining and hence, the Kollam Municipal Corporation had decided to terminated the agreement. The NGT directed the Kollam Corporation to implement the Indore Model of disposal of legacy waste within 6 months, failing which the Corporation would be liable to pay a compensation of Rs. 1 crore after the expiry of six months. This mount would be realized from the officers who were responsible for implementing the scheme.
When the matter came up for hearing before the NGT on July 13, 2020 the Corporation submitted that re-survey of the dumping site was required due to wide variation in the quantity of legacy waste determined by the Corporation and the new contractor M/s Zonta Infratech Private Limited. Further, it was reported that the terms of contract proposed by the contractor were not in tune with the Kerala Public Works Department (PWD) manual and prevailing government orders and hence a concurrence from the state government was required for awarding the contract accepting such changes. The Corporation also reported that the bio-mining could be started only after obtaining the sanction from the Council of Kollam Municipal Corporation.
The NGT directed the Kerala State Pollution Control Board to inspect the area in question and submit a status report showing the real state of affairs including the violation if any of non-implementation of provisions of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 in Kollam Corporation and any damage that has been caused on account of the negligence with respect to legacy waste. The KSPCB was asked to assess the environmental compensation and take steps to realize the same from the defaulter and submit a detail report to the Tribunal.
The site was inspected September 8, 2020 by a team of Board officers led by the Chief Environmental Engineer, Regional Officer, Thiruvanathapuram.
The report informed the NGT that the Kollam Corporation was having about 16 acres of land in this place. The whole area is protected with fencing. There are several houses and two temples very near to this area. About half portion of this area is filled with the legacy waste. It is protected by high walls and fencing. The legacy waste could be seen in a large heap covered with creepers and small plants extending to the Ashtamudi lake, a Ramsar site. One of the temples is within 50 meters.
A large shed constructed for the purpose of solid waste treatment with some machinery, was seen in the other half portion of the area. A sanitary landfill, partly constructed was also seen adjacent to the shed. A considerable portion of the sanitary landfill site was in coastal regulation zone (CRZ) area and hence the work was not completed. Water sampling was conducted in the area near to the legacy waste site by the KSPCB officers on September 22, 2020. Water samples were collected from 12 nearby water bodies including wells, temple pond and Ashtamudi lake.
The results showed that the water quality was improving though the well water at present cannot be used for drinking purpose without conventional treatment and disinfection.