Panel comprising Renu Raj had apprised NGT about chemical pollution risk from Brahmapuram

Fire & Rescue personnel engaged in the activity of putting out the fumes rising from the Brahmapuram waste dump yard. Photo: Manorama

Kochi: The disaster at the Brahmapuram solid waste treatment that precipitated air pollution in and around Kochi city in the first half of March was on expected lines if one considers a report prepared a few months back.

A three-member subcommittee that included the then Ernakulam District Collector Renu Raj had warned of the Brahmapuram waste treatment plant being a major source of pollution when it identified and prepared a short-list of possible sources of chemical pollution over central Kerala back in October 2022.

The list, submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), included the Brahmapuram waste treatment plant and 12 chemical factories. And the latest Brahmapuram fire tragedy occurred even as the NGT was initiating the follow-up action on the recommendations of the sub-committee.

Why NGT had to step in

Earlier, the NGT entrusted the committee to study the matter after Eroor native A Rajagopal submitted a petition before it, pointing out that noxious gases are being released into Kochi’s atmosphere in large quantities during the night and that the same is leading to serious health hazards.

Besides Renu Raj, who was transferred to Wayanad post the fire incident, the other members of the committee included Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Scientist Dr V Dipeesh and State Pollution Control Board Senior Environment Scientist P Geetha.

The committee, in its report, informed the NGT that the chemical nature of polluted air should be studied and only then the exact source of pollution could be identified. On the basis of this recommendation, the NGT then ordered that an immediate investigation should be conducted and a report submitted if anyone complained of chemical odour in the air.

Public to bear brunt of Rs 500 cr fine: Surendran

BJP state secretary K Surendran charged that the ruling LDF Government will burden the public and pay the Rs 500 crore fine, slapped by the NGT on Kochi Corporation for the Brahmapuram episode, from the state exchequer only.

The current inquiry into the fire tragedy is intended at covering up the role of the Government and the CPM in the incident, he claimed, adding the probe should be taken over by a central agency.

Surendran was inaugurating the concluding session of a protest march that started from Karimughal near Brahmapuram.

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