BBMP landfills near Gundur, Bidarahalli, Byappanahalli, Kammasandra, Jyothipura, and Mandur are causing untold misery to the communities around them.

The two-lane road is free of potholes. On both sides are fields of roses of different hues. The only thing that one would not associate with this pretty picture is the stomach-churning stench of festering garbage.

The road leading to Mandur landfill is picturesque. But the stretch closer to the dumpsite is a complete contrast. Here, one can find loads of garbage dumped by the roadside. Inside the gate leading to the dumpsite, women with hand-held rakes are usually hard at work trying to clear the path for the numerous lorries that bring the city’s waste there.

Manjula, Thimmakka, Anjanamma and Sarojamma, all residents of Gundur, work tirelessly from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. every day at the landfill. With no safety gear, the daily wage workers who earn Rs. 200 a day are exposed to the risk of contracting diseases, what with being directly exposed to untreated garbage. “For us, garbage is ‘Lakshmi’. We are earning because of it. We are used to it now and have not fallen ill for the past three years,” claimed Ms. Thimmakka.

However, the communities in the surrounding villages of Bidarahalli, Byappanahalli, Kammasandra, Jyothipura and those living in Mandur are not so blasé about the garbage being dumped in their backyard.

Narendra Babu, a farmer, said that former BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah had directed the officials to build a compound wall around the landfill to prevent the leachate from flowing into their fields. “However, the project is yet to be taken up. Every time it rains, the leachate flows directly into our fields. Many of the guava and mango trees in our orchards have died,” he pointed out.

Rakesh Gowda, member of Mandur gram panchayat, said that Mr. Siddaiah had, on the last day as Commissioner, written to the communities and sought one year time (till June 2014) to process the accumulated waste. He said that he had also stated that only inerts that constitute 15 per cent of the 3,600 tonnes of garbage generated every day in the city would be dumped there.

However, the BBMP’s plans to utilise the accumulated waste to generate power, crude oil and manure are yet to take shape. He said the waste was not being processed at all at the landfill. The indiscriminate dumping of waste outside the landfill has also cut off the “kaal dari” (walking track) to the farmers’ orchards and fields, he added.

The situation at the Mavallipura landfill is marginally better. Local leader M. Srinivas said while the dumping of waste had stopped, the BBMP was yet to take up processing and clearing the hundreds of tonnes of accumulated waste. “It was only due to our prolonged struggle that the dumping has seized. But the ecological damage is already done,” he lamented.

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