The city of Kochi in Kerala, India, has been hit with another environmental disaster. A massive fire broke out at the Brahmapuram Waste Treatment Plant in the early hours of March 22, 2021. The fire raged for over 48 hours, releasing thick smoke and toxic fumes into the air, and damaging the surrounding ecosystem.

The fire was caused by an accumulation of garbage and waste materials, which ignited due to high temperatures and dry weather conditions. The plant is meant to serve as a temporary storage site for Kochi’s garbage but has been operating beyond its capacity for years, leading to problems with waste management. The lack of proper waste management and disposal procedures has been a persistent problem in the city of Kochi for years, and this fire is just the latest episode in the unfolding environmental disaster.

The fire was extinguished with the help of Fire and Rescue Services, but the damage has already been done. The air quality in the surrounding areas dropped significantly during the fire, and the smoke emitted could cause respiratory problems and other health issues, especially for the residents living nearby.

According to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Kochi Corporation is at fault for the fire, citing several violations of environmental norms, including the lack of proper waste management practices and inadequate fire safety measures. The NGT has ordered the Kochi Corporation to pay a compensation of Rs. 100 to the workers who were injured during the fire and to the residents and the local panchayat for the damage caused.

The NGT has also directed the Kochi Corporation to submit a report detailing the steps they plan to take to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. The report should include measures to identify and address areas of non-compliance, as well as a specific timeline for implementation.

The NGT also urged the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to take strict action against those responsible for the fire and to ensure that the waste management guidelines are followed in the future. The KSPCB has already conducted an investigation into the incident and submitted its report, which highlights the lack of proper supervision and monitoring at the plant.

The NGT’s order is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough to address the larger issue of waste management in Kochi. The city generates around 1,200 tonnes of waste every day, and the lack of proper infrastructure to deal with this waste has been a persistent problem for years. The Brahmapuram plant was built as a temporary measure, but it has been functioning for almost two decades, and its capacity has been exceeded by over five times. The Kochi Corporation needs to invest in proper infrastructure and come up with a long-term waste management plan that addresses the city’s needs.

The residents of Kochi are already suffering from the effects of the waste management crisis. The city’s water bodies are polluted, and the air quality is poor due to the open burning of waste. The health of the residents is at risk, and the local ecosystem is under threat.

The Kochi Corporation and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board need to take urgent action to ensure that the waste management guidelines are followed, and the residents’ health and safety are protected. The NGT’s order for compensation is only a small measure of justice for the victims of the fire, but it is a reminder that the authorities need to be held accountable for their actions. The solution to the waste management crisis in Kochi is long overdue, and it is time for the authorities to take concrete steps to address it.

In conclusion, the fire at the Brahmapuram Waste Treatment Plant is another reminder of the urgent need for proper waste management in Kochi. The NGT’s order for compensation and a report from the Kochi Corporation is a welcome move, but it is not enough to address the larger issue of waste management in the city. The authorities need to take urgent action to ensure that the waste management guidelines are followed, and the residents’ health and safety are protected. The solution to the waste management crisis in Kochi is long overdue, and it is time for the authorities to take concrete steps to address it.