At Kochi’s Brahmapuram after garbage dumping ,biomedical waste treatment plant turns into an environmental nightmare

Brahmapuram,Nov25:Five kilometers from Kochi’s Infopark is the dilapidated village of Brahmapuram, aka Kochi municipal corporation’s dumping yard. It is a near desolate abandoned village with very few families living in abandoned colonies, alongside the undying stink.

Adding to the misery created by the existing waste-treatment plant, the government has now said that a new bio-medical waste treatment plant, a long-term demand of the Indian Medical Association, will be set up.

Expectedly, the few villagers who are unfortunate enough to be still living there, and activists, have expressed anguish over the decision. The new plant, a Rs. 5 crore project spread across 2.5 acres inside the Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT) campus, under the jurisdiction of the Puthencruz Panchayat of Ernakulam, has been given the green light.

“The proposed site is just across the river from the Brahmapuram waste dumping area. The new plant which is about to come is even more dangerous as it will deal with bio-medical waste,” says environmental activist Basheer Koikal.

Though the project proposal says that the plant is 350 metres away from any nearby waterbody, Basheer alleges that the site is surrounded by several other wetlands and that it is just 150 metres away from the Chithrapuzha river.

“The two rivers, Chitrapuzha and Kadambrayar, are nearly dead due to the Brahmapuram plant. Now, with the new one being set up, remaining wetlands will also be destroyed,” Basheer rues. “How could the government give a nod to this project without considering these factors?” he asks angrily.

The project was proposed by the Kerala Enviro Infrastructure Ltd (KEIL) which comes under Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC). In its proposal, KEIL claims “The plant will cater to the waste generated from hospitals and healthcare facilities located in Ernakulam and southern districts of Kerala, where a large number of healthcare facilities are functioning.” The proposal also says that the only bio-medical waste treatment plant in Kerala, IMAGE at Palakkad, is overloaded and another one is required.

For some, the green, beautiful and pristine villages of Brahmapuram, Kakkanad, Kalamassery, Puthencruz and Irumpanam are a distant memory. “These areas were once the hub of paddy fields, but now they are garbage dumps with industrial effluents. Two major rivers, Periyar and Muvattupuzha, and two smaller ones, Chithrapuzha and Kadambrayar, and several other waterbodies have now turned dark and filthy,” says activist Charles George. “Now this new plant will only worsen the situation.”

The KEIL however refutes these claims, and says the damage to the environment will be minimal.