With BBMP having no real plan, an epidemic may be just round the corner

You may be flinging the garbage away from your home now, but chances are that it will be back at your doorstep bigger than ever.

Citizens, meet IT City’s hairiest problem for which there seems to be no permanent solution in sight. Communities around landfills, where our refuse has been dumped for years, have had enough.

Today, the mounds of unsegregated garbage on our city’s streets are getting bigger, garbage-laden lorries are lined up on thoroughfares with no place to go. As of Saturday, Bangalore does not know what to do with over 7,000 tonnes of garbage dumped here, there and everywhere. More will be dumped in the days to come and with the Ayudha Puja and Bakrid round the corner, we will all soon be right in the midst of a festering nightmare.

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which spends nearly Rs. 450 crore annually on solid waste management, has drawn up an action plan for disposal of festival waste only now.

Dengue on the rise

It is not just the ghastly sight and smell we should worry about. The threat of outbreak of epidemics looms even as health experts say diseases such as dengue are already on the rise.

For the time being, BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel says impasse at Mandur landfill has been cleared and 220 truckloads of garbage will be permitted at the landfill daily. However, it is now clear Mandur is not a permanent solution.

Bangalore generates 4,000 tonnes of garbage every single day. Ever since the system collapsed, this alarming quantity has remained within the city, reducing several areas to garbage dumps. Marketplaces, especially City Market, Kalasipalya and Russell Market, are the worst hit with garbage not cleared for five days now. At Sarakki Market on Kanakapura Road, fresh fruits and vegetables are being unloaded right on the garbage mounds while vendors are forced to sell their ware standing on the garbage.

“Leaking water pipes, overflowing sewage and heavy rain have compounded the situation. Vendors and customers are both at risk. That apart, citizens who eat out are also at risk as most hotel authorities buy vegetables and fruits here,” a resident said.

Sneaky dumping

The current situation in the city’s solid waste management was summed by a garbage truck driver, who revealed to The Hindu on condition of anonymity that waste was not being dumped by the BBMP lorries. “The contractors’ lorries are dumping garbage in abandoned quarry pits on Hosur Road. Some of the garbage generated in South Zone is being dumped in Jigani, while that from East Zone is sent to Bagalur. We are yet to receive instructions regarding clearing of waste during the festivals,” he said.

Plan shelved

Even though the BBMP identified six sites across the city where garbage could be dumped temporarily, the plan was shelved after it was found infeasible.

Mr. Goel has been harping on selling wet waste to farmers around Bangalore to turn it into compost. “There will be some relief with this. Already more than 35 farmers have evinced interest,” he said.

VOX POPULI

N. Mukund, member, Citizens’ Action Forum: The crisis can be solved if the BBMP builds its own capacity by recruiting pourakarmikas, besides setting up segregation centres across the city. A campaign, much like Pulse Polio, must be taken up for waste segregation with active involvement of councillors. The BBMP should prepare an action plan that can be implemented in phases.

Meenakshi Bharath, member, Solid Waste Management Round Table: We are all waging a war against garbage. It is imperative that every citizen segregates waste and reduces the burden on the BBMP and landfills on the city’s outskirts. We need to go the extra mile so that the BBMP can solve the crisis by getting its act together. If not, we are only going to kill ourselves slowly with garbage.

Vasudev Adiga, president, Bruhat Bangalore Hotel Owners’ Association: Waste from the hotels is being cleared by the BBMP’s garbage contractors. As of now, we are not facing any problem. Hotels were asked to set up biofuel units so that the wet waste can be managed effectively. Though the BBMP assured us of technical support, hotel owners have not been given any proven technology or that which is affordable.

D. Venkatesh Murthy, Mayor: The BBMP is working towards solving the garbage crisis. New projects for scientific disposal are on the anvil. Work order for these will be given soon, pending approval from the government (Cabinet). We have already started initiating measures to meet the demands of the Mandur [landfill] community members.

Rajneesh Goel, BBMP Commissioner: This crisis is a wakeup call to the BBMP. It is time we seriously took up segregation at source and try to get out of Mandur. Till the other facilities are created, dumping to a small extent will continue at the Mandur landfill. The BBMP has also devised a plan of action to tackle excess waste that will be generated during the festival season.

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