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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
Name of conflict:Vilappilsala waste plant, Kerala, India
State or province:Kerala
Location of conflict:Village-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 commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The 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].

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Project area:4.8
Level of Investment for the conflictive project$11331362 (Rs. 70 Crores)
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Corporation of Trivandrum from India - Owner
Relevant government actors:The High Court of Kerala
The Supreme Court of India
Government of Kerala
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Vilappil Janakeeya Samithi
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
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-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:The 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules
[click to view]

[1] Litter divide
[click to view]

[2] Tvm corporation finally shelves Vilappilsala waste plant project
[click to view]

[3] Administration buckles under protest against Vilappilsala waste plant
[click to view]

[4] Administration buckles under protest against Vilappilsala waste plant
[click to view]

Call to shut Vilappilsala waste treatment plant
[click to view]

Vilappilsala Waste Treatment Plant To Be Reopened
[click to view]

Vilappilsala still 'alive'
[click to view]

Vilappilsala, The Wasteland Of Trivandrum
[click to view]

Household waste treatment plants proposed for Vilappilsala
[click to view]

The Vilappilsala Cry
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Press meet by Kerala Chief Minister Shri.Oommen Chandy on 16-10-2012 (in Malayalam)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1773
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