A high court-directed exercise to push men, material and machinery into the idling solid waste treatment plant at nearby Vilappilsala came to naught on Friday.

A strong posse of 2,500 policemen had to call off the effort in the face of stiff resistance put up by a massive crowd of ‘aggrieved’ locals.

SOFT OPTION

The police observed maximum restraint and engaged the soft option of water cannons to make way along the road thronged choc-a-block by hordes of protesters.

Numbering in their thousands and including women and children, the milling crowd set up fires and threw down burning debris on the road leading to Vilappilsala.

Their ire was targeted against the move of the district administration to drive in trucks carrying machinery to put into operation at the leachate treatment plant.

This would purportedly take care of the immediate need to prevent contamination of water resources in the neighbourhood.

INTENTION DOUBTED

But the action committee of the people’s movement doubted the intention of the city corporation and saw in it a veiled attempt to resume the main plant.

“Why else should the corporation bother about this at a time when the rotting waste has already been buried underground,” a villager said.

The waste treatment plant itself has been lying closed for eight months following enforced stoppage.

This had in turn brought the movement of urban waste from the capital city to a grinding halt and led to pilling up of garbage, raising a major health hazard.

BEATING THE RETREAT

No truck laden with urban waste has been allowed to enter Vilappilsala from December 21 last year.

The high court intervened in the matter and ordered that the State government take steps to resume the movement of trucks from February this year.

By that time, machinery and equipment needed for the leachate plant too had landed.

The State government was directed to act and ensure passage of trucks into Vilappilsala. But it had to beat a hasty retreat after running into stiff opposition.

It was in this context that the court gave a fresh deadline of August 3, stating that the government may use force, if needed, to implement its directive.

vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 3, 2012)
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