With a drop in cracker sales, the quantum of cracker waste in the city has come down, but conservancy workers allege that the Chennai Corporation has taken few steps to responsibly and comprehensively clear cracker waste. While cracker waste along major roads across the city were bundled up in tarpaulin bags by Wednesday afternoon, conservancy workers claimed that most of the cracker waste from homes will be going to the landfills.
“We were instructed to clear the cracker wastes on our usual routes, but most residents have mixed the cracker waste with domestic waste,” said a conservancy worker in Mandaveli, explaining that manpower shortage has made it impossible to segregate cracker waste.
It is learned that the disregard for cracker waste from homes has been a trend ever since the Corporation began disposing cracker waste directly in Gummidipoondi hazardous waste facility. “The officials care only about the roads. Even if residents keep the cracker waste separately, it is taken along with domestic waste because the lorries which go to Gummidipoondi can only accommodate waste on roads,” said a conservancy workers’ union leader.
Last year, the city Corporation sent around 80 tonnes of cracker waste to the Gummidipoondi waste facility and conservancy inspectors claim it is only a small fraction of the cracker waste generated in city. “It is an eyewash. Most of the cracker waste goes to Perungudi or Kodungaiyur landfill only,” said a conservancy inspector, explaining that 80 tonnes of waste was generated in two or three zones alone. This year the Corporation will send 64 tonnes of cracker waste.
Being the monsoon season, residents have raised concerns over the tarpaulin bags filled with cracker waste that have been left on the sides of the roads. “The chemicals will seep into soil and mix with groundwater if it isn’t removed promptly,” said K Radhika, a resident of West CIT Nagar.
However, Corporation officials assured swift removal of the bags containing cracker waste. “Cracker waste which has been collected in bags will be removed by Thursday evening and sent directly to Gummidipoondi facility,” said a senior Corporation official.