The city was in the throes of a major garbage crisis not so long ago. While the situation may seem like it is under control, none of the solutions proposed by the solid waste management experts have been implemented, giving rise to fears that Bangalore could be engulfed in its own garbage anytime again.
The crisis erupted in September last when the communities living around the landfills rose in protest against the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) dumping untreated waste in their backyard. This resulted in garbage piling up across the city. The city generates more than 3,500 tonnes of garbage every day.
It was only then that the BBMP woke up to the need for a proper solid waste management policy. The garbage crisis even resulted in the transfer of two commissioners of the BBMP, not to mention the criticism that the government and the BBMP received from the High Court of Karnataka.
Realising the gravity of the situation, the BBMP decided to make segregation of waste at source mandatory for all citizens from October 1, 2012. The BBMP top officials claimed that systems had been put in place to handle the segregated waste.
The BBMP also realised that it had to break the hold that the “garbage mafia” had on it and thereby, the city, and floated new garbage tenders; a majority of which were bagged by a single agency — B.V.G. India Pvt. Ltd.
But clearly, the situation is hardly under control, as the BBMP continues to dump mixed waste in the four landfills — Mandur, S. Bingipura, Lakshmipura and Terra Firma, Doddaballapur.
While the BBMP officials claimed that bio-mining measures had been taken up in six landfills to treat and process the 22.45 lakh tonnes of accumulated garbage, an expert, on condition of anonymity, told The Hindu that due to red tape and corruption, not one gram of waste or leachate had been treated.
Almitra Patel, member of the Supreme Court Committee on Solid Waste Management, said that only if segregation is made mandatory, the quantum of garbage going to the landfills can be reduced. The BBMP, which has made segregation mandatory for all citizens, has failed to implement it.
Though some citizens segregate their waste, the garbage collectors aggregate the waste. “Until dry waste collection centres are set up in all wards, segregation of waste at source will not work. The BBMP has only set up around 50 centres so far,” said N.S. Ramakanth, member of the Solid Waste Management Round Table.
He said that several new projects to process the waste had not taken off as the model code of conduct was in force. He said that some sort of incentive system for contractors and pourakarmikas, who handle waste every day, needed to be worked out for segregation of waste at source to become a success.
One of the many suggestions to solve the crisis is to set up waste processing units in each Assembly constituency. However, it remains to be seen whether the new government will rise to the challenge of finding a solution to the issue.