Alevoor dump yard: Garbage in, garbage out4 min read
Alevoor (Udupi): Until two years ago, Prema lived near a dumping yard at Beedinagudde in Udupi, surrounded by a pervasive stench and clouds of smoke. Clutching her throat, she said, “It choked us.” The protests of her community prevailed, and the dumping yard was shifted three kilometres away, to a remote site in Alevoor village, assuring scientific disposal of waste as opposed to the earlier simple dumping in an open ground. This shift in dumping site merely transported the problems of Beedinagudde to Alevoor.
As per the Udupi City Municipal Corporation’s (CMC) plans, 13 tonnes of the garbage collected daily from Udupi and Manipal would be treated at the 22 acre solid waste management site at Alevoor. The treated waste would subsequently be converted into manure.
Today, the disposal site is short of workforce required to segregate degradable waste from the non-degradable – the first step in any scientific disposal process. “We require around 50 to 100 workers to segregate waste, however at present only eight people are involved in this exercise. Most of the plastics come from Manipal and right now all we can do is dump them in landfills,” said Sadanand Poojari, the supervisor of the site.
According to him, the segregated waste is treated with an odour controller for about 35 days. This treated waste is then dumped in an open land-fill. Anaerobic bacteria consume polluted parts of the waste water from garbage. Then, the water is safely released into the Alevoor Lake, nearby. The local residents however painted a different picture.
A few hundred metres away from Alevoor dumping yard is Nethaginagar, a neighbourhood comprising of around 68 families. During the monsoons last year, they – along with the people from the nearby Pragathinagar – had filed a petition in the District Commissioner office against the stench and filth. They claimed to have received no relief. Raja, a resident of Nethaginagar said, “Though mosquitoes and flies are prevalent throughout the year, things get chaotic during the monsoons. The stench from the dump yard is intolerable and the clean water is polluted by the water leaching from garbage.”
In April this year, speaking exclusively to TMJ, Gokuldas Nayak, the commissioner of Udupi CMC said, “After receiving complaints from the people in Alevoor during last monsoons, 30 lakhs has been reserved to build a pipeline which will separate the filthy water and prevent its leaching into drinking ground water.” One month back, a pipeline had been laid to carry effluents to the Alevoor Lake. However, the pipeline remains incomplete and effluents are discharged on the way to the lake, near residential colonies.
Alevoor is echoing with the problems once faced by Beedinagudde. With filth scattered all over the place, the residents of Beedinagudde lived in the constant fear of malaria. Fever loomed as a significant problem for the toddlers, whose bodies were covered with rashes. Stray animals fed on the garbage to their hearts content, making it a breeding ground for diseases. The wells had been polluted. Access to safe drinking water was rare. “Monsoons are a nightmare for us. There are houseflies everywhere and mosquitoes breed in this place,” said Renuka Selva, one of the locals.
Manikanta, a resident of Nethaginagar was diagnosed with Malaria thrice. The nearest medical facilities for families residing in close proximity to the Alevoor dumping yard are atleast four kilometres away. “The hospitals are so far away and transport is a problem during the rainy months. At times, we do not even get a proper response at the Kasturba Medical College (KMC) hospital in Manipal.”
According to CMC commissioner, the solid waste management plant in Alevoor is in its primary stage and the garbage is made non-toxic before dumping. Though, conversion of garbage into manure has not seen desired results, plans to utilise 95% of garbage for power generation are also on cards. Rochem Seperation Systems (India) Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based company has collaborated with a German based waste management company, Concorn Blue to look into the possibilities of power generation from Alevoor. However, the public-private partnership (PPP) agreement is yet to be sorted.
In August last year, CMC had planned to convert the Beedinagudde dumping yard into a multipurpose ground and amphitheatre (see, ‘Dump yard to be Amphitheatre’, The Manipal Journal, August 16, 2010). The project is yet to see light. Meanwhile, monsoons having arrived, the problems of Alevoor are far from over. Manure procured from recycling, if done on a large scale, can become a source of income to the residents.
When asked as to why there were no protests against the dump yard, the locals said that they had given up as their complaints had gone unheard last monsoon.
Sub-edited by: Garima Goel