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Kodungiayur garbage dump site in Chennai, TN, India


Like any other metropolitan cities in India, Chennai also lack proper management of domestic municipal swages. Kodungaiyur is the area where Chennai's domestic wastages are generally dumped without any scientific treatment [1]. Although about 269-acre plot in Kodungaiyur is used for the garbage dumpsite in Chennai only about, 100 acres of the land are used for haphazard dumping of wastes [2]. Due to lack of proper treatment, most of the garages are simply burnt. The smoke from the fires creates havoc in the densely populated nearby locality. About five lakh people particularly the children living around the dump complain about the severe health alignments by the smoke coming out from the burning of garages [1].

As a result of this, the living condition of the area has been gradually deteriorating. Air sample of the area shows the presence of many carcinogens in the lethal doses. Residents were unable to bear the smoke and the subsequent pollution from the dump yard. They alleged that the pollution in the area due to smoke is not only a health concern but also a social issue. Nobody even the relatives of them do not visit the place because of the smoke and pollution in the area. With the increasing pollution and no attention by the government officials, people started protesting against the dumpsite. The protest took a momentum in November 2012 when thousands of local people staged protest and street march. They blocked the main gate of the dump site and demanded the immediate closure of the site [1]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Kodungiayur garbage dump site in Chennai, TN, India
State or province:Tamil Nadu
Location of conflict:Locality-Kodungiayur; City- Chennai
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Chennai Corporation is the responsible agency for solid waste management in the City Corporation area. Chennai Corporation area is divided into 10 zones. These zones are further sub-divided into about 15 Divisions. There are altogether 155 Divisions in Chennai. These zonal officials are responsible for waste managements in their respective areas. According to Census 2001, the population of the City was 43.43 lakhs and the average per capita solid waste generated within the City was estimated to be about 585 grams [4]. Corporation of Chennai website says that, the city generates about 4500 MT of garbage daily. This garbage is collected and removed from the city by door to door collection and transported to the dumpsite at Kodungaiyur [5]

Project area:513
Type of populationUnknown
Affected Population:5,00000
Start of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:Corporation of Chennai (COC) from India - Owner
Relevant government actors:Tamil Nadu Pollution control board
Government of Tamil Nadu
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:My Chennai My Right, an inititative by The Hindu
Local Residents

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:According to the NDTV report, environmental activists observed that there is lack of initiative from the authorities for better waste management. According to them it's a huge racket involving powerful people. Most garbage transport trucks are owned by political mafias and corporation paid for every trip they carry garbage. If garbage segregated at source they would lose business because most of the garbage will go for recycling. So this nexus must be broke for the waste management in Chennai [1]
According to the Hindu Report, Chennai needs non-burn technology like alkaline hydrolysis as an alternative method of waste treatment. Hospitals should actively focus on eliminating toxic substances and do segregation at source. Hospitals use a common treatment facility for treating their wastes [3]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:According to the activists, honorable Madras High Court in its order had put a total ban on the burning of garages. However, the corporation is not obeying the order and continued burning. Looking at the apathy from the Municipal Corporation residents are considering to go to the court again. However, corporation said that their employees are not responsible for the burning rather the rag pickers and other miscreants are sometimes set the garbage into fire [1].
As a result of protest, the corporation has taken some actions. Firstly they decided that the garbage will be dumped throughout the land and not only at the gate of the site. Secondly, they decided to put fire services to reach all corner of the site to douse the fire in case it happens in future. Thirdly, as the garbage is dumped haphazardly all over the areas, an all approachable road will be constructed to reach every corner of the site. Finally a concrete wall will be constructed to isolate the place from the locality. With all these measures, residents of the locality hoped that the decision would bring some relief to them [2]
However, the environmental experts have different opinions. They say that expanding or an alternate landfill will not solve the problem. The waste needs to be segregated at the source of its generation. Above all a decentralized management is utmost needed [2].
The corporation had taken a step to expand the dumping area only as a temporary measure. The city mayor assured that dumping of municipal solid waste will be stopped completely in Kodungaiyur after the final decision on alternative sites for setting up solid waste management plants [2].

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling)

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act , 1981

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Huge protests at Chennai's largest garbage dump

[2] Kodungaiyur dumping yard to get bigger

Trash Planet: Kodungaiyur

[4] Solid Waste Management

[5] Corporation of Chennai (Solid Waste Management)

[3] Tipping point for trash in Chennai

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Kodungaiyur Dumpyard in Chennai

Kodungaiyur garbage dump yard

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update25/02/2015



Burning Dumpyard in Chennai

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