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3 Jan 2017

Hill garbage protest

Children protest against dumping of waste at Bhalukhop. 
(Chinlop Fudong Lepcha)
RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Kalimpong, Jan. 2: Residents of two villages near the solid waste management plant of Kalimpong municipality have stopped the dumping of garbage of the hill town at the site, alleging the manner in which the wastes were being dumped was unsystematic.
The residents of Newargaon and Dalamgaon, under the banner of the Bhalukhop Gram Kalyan Samiti, have repeatedly gathered at the plant site, about 6km from Kalimpong town, for the past two days to foil the dumping of garbage at Lower Bhalukhop.
Although the subdivisional officer had called the residents for a meeting today, they did not turn up to meet him as they first want the SDO to visit the dumping site and see the ground reality.
"When the plant was being planned, the municipality had assured us that local people will not be adversely affected in any manner as the plant would be operated in a scientific and systematic manner. However, the fact is that even biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes are not being segregated as promised," said Pradip Rai, the president of the samiti.
Rai said the municipality must remain true to its promise and operate the plant in a scientific and systematic manner to ensure that the health of the people and safety of the terrain were not at risk. "The uncontrolled accumulation of garbage could pose a threat to the terrain by triggering landslides during monsoon. Flies drawn to the untreated garbage also pose health hazard to our community. We are not opposed to the plant per se. Our grouse is that it is not being operated in a scientific manner," Rai said.
Kalimpong subdivisional officer Nirmalya Gharami, who took over as acting administrator of the municipality about two weeks ago at the end of the five-year term of the last elected civic board, said he had called the aggrieved villagers for a meeting at 3pm today, but they failed to turn up.
"The land where the garbage is being dumped belongs to the municipality, and we will continue to use it. I had called them (the villagers) for a meeting today, but they didn't come," he said.
Sachin Rai, the spokesman of the samiti, said meeting the acting administrator in his chamber was pointless and he should visit the plant site. "We want the SDO to come and see for himself the condition on the ground, and then we can talk," he said.

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