Can Chennai Corporation clear the air on waste management?

The Chennai Corporation has apparently promised to stop burning the garbage generated by this city of about 6 million people at its Perungudi dump, seen here in its usual smouldering state. That is what the report in today’s The Hindu states. Unless Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni can work some miracle, it is not likely to be a promise that will be kept.

The handling of waste in Chennai has been a scandal, with private for-profit companies enjoying long-term rights to transport unsegregated waste to the suburban dump where it is burnt to make room for more. At first, it was CES Onyx which had the privilege, for seven years and more recently, the concession has gone to Neel Metal Fanalca. The bottomline is that the burning operation is illegal, and violative of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, which are in force under Supreme Court orders from 2004. This is a continuing scandal, one that exemplifies India’s disregard for environmental pollution. More on the Neel Metal Fanalca scandal can be found here.

If you are a concerned citizen and wish to pursue the solid waste question in Chennai, the first thing to do is ask for the copy of the contract signed by the city corporation with the concessionaire, Neel Metal Fanalca. This can be done under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The officers who should provide answers, including documents and files to the public under this law are given in this page of the Chennai Corporation’s website.

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