Table of Contents
Context: Fire at the Brahmapuram landfill site in the outskirts of Kochi, Kerala has brought up the issues of unscientific, non-sustainable and piecemeal approach towards solid waste management, not only in Kerala but across India.
- Kochi’s garbage disposal has been a long drawn issue, evident by Kerala High Court’s order around a decade ago, to close the city for a couple of days so that it could be cleared of garbage.
- Today the landfill site at Brahmapuram has expanded over 100 acres.
Issues with Public Policy
- Natural environment is not a part of official discourse in Kerala even though there has been evidence of its degradation for some time now.
- Focus on distributism: The focus of government has been on the distribution of goods, services and cash. The meta-narrative is that the public are entitled to these goods, and the government’s principal duty is to respond to this.
- Lack of garbage disposal policy: Kerala has no arrangement for scientific disposal of garbage, and the government remains unconcerned and incapable.
- Unsustainable public service model: Poorly-funded and badly-managed public services such as power supply and transportation, with nonaligned prices and costs, results in financial ruin of utilities and affecting income generation potential of the economy.
- Sub-par quality of services since adequate investment is not done in services like health, education etc. and cash transfers prove to be insufficient to opt for alternate private services.
- The Kerala Public policy does not allot responsibility to the citizens for waste management and degrading the situation of the cities.
- Since Kerala is almost continuously inhabited, all transportation channels, be it road or rail, are littered with refuse on either side and reflects the general attitude that cleaning up is someone else’s responsibility.
Direction of Public Policy in Kerala, which could Impact India
- Immediate attention to controlling fire at Brahmapuram and cleaning the city of smoke and carcinogens to make it habitable.
- Responsibility for scientific treatment of garbage at the site must be fixed with Kochi Municipal Corporation, given its proximity to the action.
- Garbage segregation by households must become a condition in order for a person to reside in the city
- Adequate funding for garbage clearance should be ensured which may require revisiting the municipal taxes levied on property ownership and user rates for municipal services.
- Periodic independent review of the functioning of the garbage disposal sites, and the assessment made public.
- Public policy in Kerala in future must pivot towards conservation of natural capital by ensuring that the carrying capacity of the earth is recognized.
- Focus on consuming less and disposing of the waste in a responsible manner