Kerala villagers unite to thwart high court order
Thiruvananthapuram: Villapinsalla was once a sleepy village on the outskirts of the city until the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation set up a waste treatment plant there a decade ago. Since then, widespread pollution has robbed the village of its tranquility.
Friday saw the village unite to prevent the police from bringing in equipment to overhaul the existing plant and machinery, as directed by the Kerala High Court.
The residents of the village, barely 15 km from the state secretariat, have been up in arms since last year when they took on the authorities and forced the local village council to close down the waste treatment plant.
Since then, despite repeated appeals from the corporation to allow restarting of the plant, the entire village has taken to the streets to ensure that waste was not dumped there.
A few months ago, the Kerala High Court had come down heavily on the state government after its earlier attempt to open the plant was thwarted by villagers.
"We can`t allow the plant to be reopened because we have been suffering all sorts of pollution from it. We are ready to sacrifice our lives but we won`t allow it to open," said the local village council president Shobana Kumari.
A 2,500-strong police force was sent to implement the high court`s order to the state administration that new plant machinery be installed at the site.
Men, women and children came out in full strength to foil the designs of the police and administration. They first lit a fire on the street to prevent vehicles from reaching the plant. And when the police used water cannons to douse the blaze, the villagers stood their ground.
The police arrested several women, but finding the going tough withdrew finally.
Thiruvananthapuram collector M. Girija told reporters that save for opening fire on the protesters, the administration did everything but could not ensure compliance of the court order due to the resistance put up by the villagers.
"We will now inform the authorities and hope that the residents will agree to what the court has asked us to do," said Girija, after ordering winding up of the police action.