Vilappilsala waste plant, Kerala, India


Vilappilsala village located about 15 Kilometer away from Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital of Kerala. The village was selected for the dumping of urban waste generated from Thiruvananthapuram city. Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, in 2000 established this centralised waste processing plant for the capital city. Initially about 12-acre of government land was selected at Vilappilsala village for this purpose. The land was acquired by Kerala State government in 1995 for the city corporation’s use. The plant was planned by the city corporation and the initial plan to establish the plant was given to a private company. The plan was to install well equipped modern processing facilities to generate fertilizer from the biodegradable waste and leachate treatment.

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Basic Data
NameVilappilsala waste plant, Kerala, India
SiteVillage-Vilappilsala, (Near-Thiruvananthapuram)
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific CommoditiesDomestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe project was conceptualized by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in 2000. About 12 acre of government land acquired in 1995 was selected for the purpose. The plant was to be established and operated by a private company. The idea was to process the biodegradable wastes into fertilizers. There were also plans to treat the contaminated water to make it potable. The initial processing capacity of the plant was 157 tons. However, the plant soon gets in access of its capacity which was difficult to handle. Beside this there were no taker of the process fertilizers. Also, the company which handled the plan left in between because of difference in many issues with Trivandrum Corporation [1].

Thiruvananthapuram City Corporation got the financial assistance from the central government under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) program. The corporation had received Rs. 24 crore from the Centre for the project. It had spent a total of Rs. 11 crore for various processes like installation of machinery, preparation of green belt and sanitary landfill. Altogether, the corporation had invested about Rs 70 crore for various needs related to the factory since the inception of the plant in 2000 [2].
Project Area (in hectares)4.8
Level of Investment (in USD)$11331362 (Rs. 70 Crores)
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesCorporation of Trivandrum from India - Owner
Relevant government actorsThe High Court of Kerala

The Supreme Court of India

Government of Kerala
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersVilappil Janakeeya Samithi
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Land dispossession
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseRepression
Violent targeting of activists
Project cancelled
Development of AlternativesThe Vilappil Janakeeya Samithi which is the organizing the protest movement wanted an immediate and permanent closure of the plant. They have produced many examples of people’s sufferings due to severe health related diseases [3].
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.With intense public protest the site has been closed. However, the city corporation stopped all financial deals pertaining to the plant in 2013-14 financial year. The corporation wrote a letter to the Union government citing 'impossibility of performance' as the reason for abandoning the project[2].
Sources and Materials

Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules
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Call to shut Vilappilsala waste treatment plant
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Vilappilsala still 'alive'
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Vilappilsala Waste Treatment Plant To Be Reopened
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The Vilappilsala Cry
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Vilappilsala, The Wasteland Of Trivandrum
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Household waste treatment plants proposed for Vilappilsala
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[1] Litter divide
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[2] Tvm corporation finally shelves Vilappilsala waste plant project
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[3] Administration buckles under protest against Vilappilsala waste plant
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[4] Administration buckles under protest against Vilappilsala waste plant
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Media Links

Press meet by Kerala Chief Minister Shri.Oommen Chandy on 16-10-2012 (in Malayalam)
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Other Documents

Activists of the Vilappilsala Janakeeya Samithi and local people carry out a victory march after the district administration withdrew the police force deployed at the panchayat to facilitate the movement of equipment to the solid waste treatment plant Source :
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update06/02/2015