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The fire is out, but concerns still simmer

The fire at the Brahmapuram waste plant, which choked three districts with toxic fumes for days, has finally been put out. More than 5,000 firefighting personnel fought the disaster with great dedication. While the public was burning with poisonous smoke and burning eyes, the government and the top political leaders were in a hurry to blame each other and run away. In the meantime, it will never be enough to appreciate the fire and rescue personnel who put their foot down and fought in the poisoned disaster-struck area. The government and the Kochi Corporation need to take the initiative to provide urgent health check-ups, rest, and other facilities to all the fire rescue personnel who participated in the Brahmapuram fire fighting mission.

Also read: Brahmapuram Fire: Fire Dept accuses Kochi Corporation of neglecting its warnings

With the fire extinguished, Brahmapuram and its garbage problems will soon be forgotten. That was the outcome of many previous fires in the waste management plant. Public indifference will also continue until the next fire which will also make things easier for administrators. The laxity and indifference of the Kochi Corporation in the matter are in no way justifiable. Along with natural calamities such as droughts and floods that recur every year, garbage is also one of the cash cows of government systems. Drinking water is needed during droughts, solutions are needed during floods, and so is the garbage disposal. The administration will get a license to do anything in emergency situations. Brahmapuram is one of the wicked ideas accomplished using this license.

Also read: Kochi residents fearful of lasting impact of toxic gas

Kochi is a crowded city, home to over nine lakh people. The most populous and congested city in Kerala. The city, which has all the indicators of development in the eyes of modern men, like Shipyard, Airport, and Metro Rail, is yet to have a sustainable waste management system. The city needs a place to dispose of the bio-plastic waste left over by lakhs of people. At present, bio-waste is treated in landfills without modern systems. Inorganic waste also ends up in a landfill. The life of the people was made difficult for several days when the fire caught the pile of organic and inorganic waste. The smoke became more toxic with the addition of organic waste. Waste management at source and recycling of plastic waste are urgently needed to solve the problem. A waste plant is also required as a long-term solution. Otherwise, Kochi can only move while panting. It may fall at some point. There are good examples of waste management within and outside Kerala. Alappuzha and Punalur municipalities are good examples. Indore, India's cleanest city four times in a row, also has excellent waste management practices. Administrators need to be prepared to learn and copy them well instead of using the waste management issue as a means to further the interest of politicians.

Also read: As Kochi smog dissipates, CM Vijayan finally breaks silence on Brahmapuram waste plant fire; orders probe

Proper awareness and legal systems should be implemented in waste disposal. It should be ensured that source waste management is implemented compulsorily in Kerala which is a consumer state. Otherwise, more Brahmapurams are likely to be replicated in the state where urbanisation is spreading rapidly. Everyone should be made aware that waste is their responsibility. Waste treatment systems should be ensured at the construction stage of houses, flats, residential complexes, and commercial complexes. Better waste management practices should be encouraged and disseminated including the lesson that throwing it in public places or pouring it into the river is not the way.

Also read: Centre asks Kerala to submit report on Brahmapuram waste plant fire

The government should also pay attention to the health of the people who had to endure the toxic fumes. According to experts, even if the fire is extinguished, the threat of toxic fumes will last for at least two weeks. No matter how much it is denied, it is true that a large number of people have been affected by toxic fumes which have reached fatal levels in three districts. The Corporation and the Government are responsible for immediate measures like daily health checks of the people in such areas, surveys in hospitals, daily monitoring of changes in ambient air, and protection of drinking water sources. The level of compounds like dioxin and chemical elements that cause fatal diseases should be checked and solutions sought. A dignified government will acknowledge when a mistake is made and seek solutions to mitigate the effects.

Also read: Kerala HC initiates suo moto writ petition in Brahmapuram fire incident

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TAGS:Brahmapuram plant fire waste management in Kochi landfill in kochi 
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