Kochi dump yard fire: Kerala CM announces three-tier inquiry
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said besides the ongoing probe by the special investigation team, the state Vigilance and an expert team will also investigate the matter
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday announced a three-tier inquiry into the fire at the Brahmapuram solid waste dump yard in Kochi, after facing criticism over the way the government handled the inferno that began on March 2 and lasted for 11 days engulfing the port city with toxic smoke and fumes.
Vijayan told the assembly that besides the ongoing probe by the special investigation team, the state Vigilance will also investigate into the reasons that triggered the massive fire. An expert team will also be constituted to study the after effects of the blaze and submit recommendations for effective treatment of waste and averting such incidents in future, he said.
The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had earlier questioned the CM over his “silence” on the issue. They alleged that ministers visited the spot a week after the fire and effective intervention should have limited the damage.
The chief minister read out the terms of reference of the inquiry, including what led to the fire, what should be done to prevent such fires in future, how suitable is Brahmapuram for dumping solid waste and its treatment, if there is any negligence who is responsible, has Kochi Corporation kept regular tab at the plant etc.
He also said that though 1,330 people sought treatment, no serious medical issue was reported from the city. “Out of 1,330 people sought medical aid, 21 persons were hospitalised. No one had serious health problems now,” he said adding that the situation in Kochi will be evaluated by the additional chief secretary and secretaries of different departments every week. He also said the government will seek the help of the World Bank and other agencies to address the mounting waste management issues of the city.
The CM said the plant was envisaged to cater to only Kochi city but it was overburdened by local bodies in the neighbouring areas and as a result 5,59,000 cubic metres of waste accumulated in the plant in 10 years. He made the statement under the Rule 300 of the assembly wherein no questions will be entertained.
Opposition leader V D Satheesan ridiculed the chief minister saying he was “delivering news from the All India Radio”. “He (Vijayan) took the escape route to avert disturbing questions and subsequent ignominy,” Satheesan said.
Meanwhile, former Kochi mayor Tomi Chammini released photos of the CM and then chief secretary Tom Jose standing with the officials of the parent company of bio-mining agency Zonta Infratech Limited, a company owned by the son-in-law of a senior CPI(M) leader that was accused of botching up the waste treatment in the city, when they visited Europe during Vijayan’s first term in 2019.
Chammini alleged that the contract for bio-mining was given to the firm a week after the CM’s Europe visit. HT could not verify the authenticity of the photos. The CM is yet to respond to these charges.