Mountains of garbage on Seven Hills
R Haribabu Tirumala: Solid waste management has become a major challenge for Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) for the past many years. The...
R Haribabu Tirumala: Solid waste management has become a major challenge for Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) for the past many years. The Solid Waste Management Plant, which was established in Tirumala to get rid of garbage, became useless since four years. Adding insult to injury, it has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies which are spreading diseases. The solid waste management was haunting the TTD administration, while it has become a major challenge for new TTD Executive Officer MG Gopal. Garbage, which was dumped by the devotees, who flock to the hill shrine daily to have a darshan of Lord Venkateswara, was piling up. It may be recalled that the TTD Health Department will collect the garbage and transport it to dumping yard. The TTD has granted the garbage collection contract to Sulabh, while the transport contract was contract was given to private people. Daily over 25 tonnes of garbage will be transported to dumping yard, while on peak days there will be 10 to 15 tonnes of more waste. As the solid waste was increasing, the TTD has decided to recycle the garbage through solid waste management system. It has made an agreement with Mahindra and Mahindra Company, which would make organic manure from garbage at Solid Waste Management Plant. At that time the TTD has agreed to take steps to separate plastic waste from collected garbage in Tirumala. Therefore, Mahindra Company has started recycling unit and supplied organic manure to TTD Garden Department and sold the remaining to the nearby farmers on concessional prices. After some time, Mahindra Company has brought to the notice of TTD about plastic material in the garbage which was damaging the recycling machines. In this context, the TTD has arranged water purification machines in all the guest houses in Tirumala and the then JEO Dharma Reddy took steps to impose a ban on water bottles. But the then Health Officer in 2009 gave permissions to plastic goods without caring the higher officials' directive. When their request went unheeded, Mahindra Company closed down the Solid Waste Management Plant. Hence, the TTD held discussions with the Mahindra and Mahindra, but to no avail. The company has reportedly stated that they will not reopen the plant unless use of plastic is totally banned in Tirumala. With the growing heap of wastage, higher officials directed to bury the wastage. But keeping in view of plastic waste remaining intact inside the ground, the TTD gave permission to a private individual to segregate plastic and shift it to Tirupati. These actions couldn't satisfy the company. In 2010, the then JEO Bhaskar managed the company to reopen the plant, but his effort stopped abruptly due to his transfer. Former EO LV Subramanyam was shocked to know that more than Rs one crore was spent to bury the garbage during a review meeting with the Health Department. He discussed with Mahindra Company again and agreed to the demands of segregation of plastic from waste, supplying of free power, water and free transport of organic manure. But the problem remained unsolved when the company demanded for written assurance. Vexed with Mahindra Company, the TTD has decided to set up a dumping yard and a recycling unit in cooperation with Tirupati Municipality. Subramanyam requested the Collector to allot 50 acres of government land within the vicinity of Tirupati which failed to get response till date. In this scenario, new Executive Officer MG Gopal announcement to solve the garbage problem assumed significance. With the ever growing number of pilgrims to the hill shrine, there is a great need to take steps to solve the garbage problem which was posing a threat not only to the devotees, but also to the environment.