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The Environmental Catastrophe at Pondicherry’s Kurumbapet Dumpsite: More Disturbing Revelations

April 2, 2011

Since my previous post, I’ve learned that on 22 January The Hindu reported that the Pondicherry Pollution Control Committee (PPCC), acting on a complaint from the Puducherry Environmental Protection Assocation, issued a notice to Puducherry Municipality for openly dumping medical and solid waste at Kurumbapet, on a site that was designated to be developed as a sanitary landfill.

Pondicherry's unsegregated waste smolders at Kurumbapet dumpsite

Pondicherry's unsegregated waste smolders at Kurumbapet dumpsite

The Hindu reports, “In its notice, the PPCC said, ‘the activity leads to severe environmental degradation and is a gross violation of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998 and the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2000.’”

According to The Hindu, Special Secretary to Government (Science, Technology and Environment) G. Theva Neethi Dhas said that the municipality has been asked to take steps to stop dumping of waste immediately, and that action would be initiated if the local body fails to do so.

On 29 March, The Hindu reported that Puducherry Municipal Services Private Limited (PMSPL), a joint venture between the Bangalore-based firm, Kivar Environ, and Puducherry Urban Development Agency (PUDA), continues dumping mixed municipal waste at Kurumbapet, more than two months after the PPCC’s notice to stop the dumping. The article quotes Deputy Conservator of Forests Anil Kumar as saying that although the dump is within 5 km of a bird sanctuary, the Ossudu lake, the Environment department was never informed about the dumping.

The article quotes Mr. Dhas, “as the yard is located within five km of the protected lake, it was mandatory for the Municipality as well as the company [PMSPL] to conduct an Environment Impact Assessment and a Public Hearing before converting the land into an area for garbage segregation. We do not have information on whether they had approached the Ministry of Environment and Forests for any clearance. However, the process would take long time to complete as it involved a lot of technicalities.”

These articles create the impression that officials in the Puducherry Government are surprisingly uninformed about the municipality’s waste management practices, and that there may have been considerable irregularities in the process of approving the Kurumbapet site for dumping. Mr. Dhas, Special Secretary to Government (Science, Technology and Environment), doesn’t know if PMSPL received clearance for dumping waste near a protected area, and Deputy Conservator of Forests Anil Kumar states that the Environment Department was never informed about the dumping of waste at Kurumbapet.

Meanwhile, the PPCC’s notice to stop dumping has been violated by PMSPL for over two months.

What is going on here?

Recently, the news magazine, Pondicherry Voice, reported that PMSPL’s tipping fee — the amount that Pondicherry pays PMSPL to dump garbage — is Rs 2,300/ton. This works out to Rs 33,350 for every 14.5 ton load that each of PMSPL’s 14 compactor trucks dump at Kurumbapet.

weighing the windfall before a compactor enters Kurumbapet dumpyard

weighing the windfall before a compactor enters Kurumbapet dumpyard

Could this astonishingly high tipping fee explain why dumping at Kurumbapet started without a genuine environmental impact assessment, public hearing, and permits?

Does it explain why the PPCC’s notice to stop dumping has gone unenforced?

I certainly hope The Hindu and Pondicherry Voice will continue to investigate the government’s handling of this environmental disaster.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2011 8:33 am

    Sir, Am Ganesh from puducherry.
    When compare to PWD your PMSPL is doing good services.
    Hands for your service.
    Keeping continue your service.

    • Brooks Anderson permalink*
      May 18, 2011 9:31 am

      Hi Ganesh,

      When did the PWD perform waste management in Pondy? To my knowledge, PMSPL replaced other private waste haulers, not the PWD. I believe that Pondy’s streets now look cleaner than they did a year ago, but the same environmental catastrophe is still happening at Pondicherry’s dumpsite in Karuvadaikuppam. Is this rather small improvement worth the price of Rs 2,300 per ton — the amount paid to PMSPL for each ton of waste they collect and dump at Karuvadaikuppam? I don’t think so.

      Is PMSPL violating the government’s waste management regulations by dumping mixed waste? Yes.

      I think PMSPL has not improved waste management enough.

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