Vadavucode-Puthencruz panchayat forms first ever environment-health experts committee

Pollution remains a major concern in panchayats, which house many industrial units

Pollution remains a major concern in panchayats, which house many industrial units

The Vadavucode-Puthencruz panchayat formed what is arguably the first environmental and health expert committee by any local body in the state.

The committee was set up to explore the possibilities of Section 163 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act which allows local bodies to set up special expert committees of an advisory nature for specific purposes. The Panchayat Governing Committee approved the seven-member panel headed by attorney Benjamin Ball and Krishnakumar KS as a contract.

The commission made its first visit to Kerala Enviro Infrastructure Limited and inspected facilities for handling hazardous waste and biomedical waste last week.

The commission made its first visit to Kerala Enviro Infrastructure Limited and inspected facilities for handling hazardous waste and biomedical waste last week.

“Our panchayats are home to many industrial units and therefore pollution remains a major concern. The expert panel will help us to do our best to ensure the quality of air and water. Besides, the frequent visits of the expert committee will also help to keep the industrial units on alert and ensure their compliance with the rules and regulations,” said Sonia Murukishan, President of the Panchayats.

The commission made its first visit to Kerala Enviro Infrastructure Limited and inspected facilities for handling hazardous waste and biomedical waste last week. A monsoon shed that stores hazardous waste, a stabilization shed, dumping pits, a leachate treatment plant for a hazardous waste treatment facility and incinerators, shredders, and an autoclave for a biomedical treatment facility have been inspected by the commission and found to be operating in accordance with the guidelines.

The committee is supposed to serve three roles. It will conduct a scientific study of pollution complaints against industrial units and report on what the panchayats can make an informed decision. “We can conduct independent research on matters related to health and the environment as well as act as an awareness-creating body,” said Mr. Krishnakumar.

However, the commission would not have any independent powers but would operate largely under the direction of the Panchayat Governing Committee. While it can raise its concerns before the panchayats, the committee will not have any authority to interact and receive complaints from people directly.

Our visits to the industrial units will be subject to the approval of the panchayats, which in turn will alert the concerned unit. “We have also put together a checklist of documents that we require from the units during our visits,” said Mr. Krishnakumar.

The Committee has also drawn up an internal regulation for its work, which provides, among other things, to hold regular meetings to consider related matters.

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