Residents of 12 villages near Mavallipura site to block garbage trucks

The three-month closure order for the municipal solid waste treatment plant and landfill at Mavallipura, issued by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, appears to have been revoked. However, KSPCB has not been consulted, let alone asked to formally retract its July 11 order, which came after mass protests and blockades in the 12 villages that surround this toxic landfill.

Senior KSPCB officials who spoke to The Hindu were not in the know, and when told that the government and the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials had challenged the monitoring authority’s right to order a blanket closure, they insisted that they were empowered to do so under the Environment Protection Act 1986. “The prohibitory order stands,” an official said.

Residents to protest

Wednesday’s announcement also took Mavallipura residents by surprise. They had hoped that the hiatus would mean that the authorities — the landfill is managed by Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd. — would clean up their act.

Residents are now worried that the area will revert to the same old environmental nightmare. They have decided to resume protests and blockades of incoming garbage trucks from Thursday, if dumping resumes. B. Srinivas, Shivakote gram panchayat member and resident of Mavallipura, said that the panchayat, which had not given consent to the waste processing plant in the first place, will oppose the move. “We will not allow the trucks in. We have been cheated again and again, with promises of scientific treatment, free health camps and a clean environment. We are opposed to the plant.” The panchayat has resolved to protest against the government’s and the BBMP’s unilateral decision.

‘No compliance yet’

In the four weeks after the plant shut down, during which the authorities were required to make significant changes to the functioning, little has improved. Residents say that they continue to live with the stench, the overflowing leachate which has gotten worse this rainy season — with flies and mosquitoes everywhere bringing the threat of vector-borne diseases — the KSPCB agrees that “compliance is still in progress”.

“Corrective measures were suggested as the plant was non-functional in many sections. They are yet to comply with and we are monitoring it,” an official said.

Promises not kept

Gram panchayat member Mr. Srinivas points out that all promises of free health camps have been only on paper. “They have not even done fogging for months. We have no faith that they will help make our condition better. They simply want to use our village as a convenient dump-yard,” he said.

The only BBMP initiative here has been the daily supply of 4,000 litres of water through a tanker to Mavallipura and Kondashettahalli. This is barely adequate given that Mavallipura has 1,200 residents.

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