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The 10  year old walked bold and fast along the main roads of Thiruvananthapuram. She had no fears as her mother held her hand and she could see her father and grandparents close by. The green leaves of the trees that gave shade on that hot afternoon seemed to be waving at her. For she was part of the SORROWFUL RALLY that reached the city on 5th December to protest against the proposed Waste to Energy Plant in the biodiversity rich Peringamala area.

Though the heat and travel had tired her a bit, the little one was excited to see her sister and cousin who walked with placards. In the front row was the loving 90 year old grandmother Bhavani Kani with a sad smile on her wizened face. She carried the traditional bow and arrow of the Kani tribe, not as a symbol of violence and power but as a indication of their determination and conviction. The little one knew that this rally is very important because her parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and brothers were in it for more than 150 days. Her mother would pick her up from school and go to the Samara pandal. She would sometimes have the tasty food cooked there for all the people sitting in protest. They would at times encounter a herd of wild elephants or bison on the way back home. Her brother would show her the hornbills that flew past silently or the huge black crested serpent eagle flying in circles overhead. She was always fascinated with the circle of dragonflies in the air or the butterflies that surrounded her small feet. Her grandparents would walk the slope to the gurgling waters of the Chittar river and dip their tired feet after a day’s hard work in the farm. Her grandfather always said the waters of Chittar have healing powers as it flows from the hills where medicinal plants grow in abundance. The Kani tribes who were friends and neighbours reminded the local population that a land where elephants and butterflies dwell freely is also a land fit for human habitation as it would be pure and clean.

Her tiny mind has been anxious and worried for many days since she sensed that all her beloved people have been involved in the Action Council against the Peringamala Waste to Energy Plant. Her little brother’s  that had just started using words has been repeating the word Vende, vende in many tones as the main slogan of the rally has been VENDE VENDA, VENDE VENDA MALINYA PLANT VENDE VENDA”. She was not sure of the word Malinyam (waste ) because her home and surroundings are always so clean. The kitchen waste from her home would be put in a pit by her mother. She would always purchase essential items from the local market either wrapped in paper and put in a bag. Her mother took care to not throw plastic covers or burn them but kept them in a large sack in the hope that there would be some effective way to dispose. Then why is that so much of waste-almost 200 tons from the city has to be brought to her clean and beautiful village? Would the waste not stink after a few hours of travel in a truck from the city? Even if a small heap of waste is left open how stinking it can be in a few hours? What would be the state of so much waste? Her grandmother is afraid that the water that leaks from the rotting waste will contaminate the crystal clear medicinal waters of their perennial Chittar. Her uncle would at times shout in anger about the unfairness of city’s waste being dumped on a village, that too a productive and neat place with human settlements.

What about the clear air of the area which is sometimes enriched by the fragrance of wild flowers and nectar from huge trees? What will happen when truckloads start moving through the sleepy and narrow roads of the village? Will it not affect the productivity of the farm? She knew that her parents and her people were generally healthy and hard working. There were some issues connected to the pollen from introduced species like Acacia that has been planted in the area. She has never ever seen her parents lie down or complain of any illness. Would that situation change? She knew that there are many technologies to manage waste in one’s own house rather than collect and heap onto one place. She also knew that the assurances given by the decision makers and those in power cannot be trusted.

These and many other questions came rushing to her mind on that hot day..as she watched and walked with her family and close friends ..but the thought that was paramount was the need to stop the Waste to Energy plant from coming to her beautiful, clean, healthy village. She broke the silence of contemplation  by loudly shouting ‘VENDE VENDA”!

Anitha.S after attending the Sorrowful Rally of the Peringamala Anti Waste plant Action Committee and talking to the children who were part of the procession on 5th December 2018.

anithasharma2007@gmail.com

2 Comments

  1. Sally Dugman says:

    This is my plant — around five to ten miles from my home. Only byproducts are hot clean water steam to cool towers and clean ash used to build bricks and concrete blocks.

    Wheelabrator Millbury | Wheelabrator Massachusetts
    http://www.wtienergy.com/plant-locations/energy-from-waste/wheelabrator-millbury

    The Wheelabrator Millbury waste-to-energy facility is capable of producing 48 MW of electricity — enough clean, renewable energy to power 49,490 homes in …

  2. Waste to Energy technology is one of the most expensive as well as pollutive technologies of waste management especially hospital waste management. Despite being touted as an attractive technological option for waste management, combustion-based processes for municipal and hospital solid waste treatment are a subject of intense debate around the world. Any sort of combustion of solid waste, that too containing plastics such as PVCs and other toxic chemicals will produce deadly effluents polluting the air, water, soil, plants, fish and human bodies. Dioxins, Furans and an array of Persistent Organic Pollutants will be emitted from the Plant that is proposed in the verdant Peringammala area which is part of the biodiversity rich Agasthyamalai area, home of the Kani tribal community and a large agrarian rural population. It is a crime to burden the people and the rich and fertile land with toxic wastes from the cities and hospitals in the name of cheap energy generation. Congratulations, Anitha for bringing the issue so poignantly to public attention. The authorities will surely have to bow before the will and soul force of the people, especially women and children.

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