It wants landfills shut down to make property more attractive

Mandur, at the moment, plays a crucial role in ridding Bangalore of its thousands of tonnes of garbage daily. However, a few yards from its landfills is a private layout with roads laid and sites demarcated. This is one of the properties closest to the three landfills here: one managed by Srinivasa Gayathri Resource Recovery Ltd. and two by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

Few takers

On the way to the landfills itself there are several real estate firms developing properties. There are also several homes almost abutting the compound of the landfill though there seem to be few takers for these thanks to their proximity to the landfills. It is this, sources say, which has prompted the real estate lobby to use political pressure to ensure that the landfill is closed. “Why is it that Arvind Limbavali, the local MLA and Health Minister, is suddenly so concerned about the community here now? Garbage from the city is being sent to Mandur for more than six years now. Why is there a problem now?” they ask.

Thrice the number

But communities around the landfills claim that their problems were compounded only when the number of the landfill-bound lorries almost tripled in the past six months. They now demand that the BBMP stop dumping and clear the accumulated garbage in the landfills. With no segregation or processing happening in any of the three landfills, the untreated leachate has polluted the groundwater.

Mandur gram panchayat president Amaravathi Manjunath said residents are tired of empty government promises. “The only support we have had in this tough time is from Health Minister Arvind Limbavali. He has been a pillar of support for us,” she said.

Threat allegations

Gram panchayat members Sadashivachar and Rakesh Gowda alleged that the situation in Mandur and surrounding villages had worsened over the past six months, when all of the city’s garbage was being sent there. Blaming Home Minister and city in-charge R. Ashok squarely for their problems, they alleged he was misusing the police machinery to threaten them.

“Those who pluck up the courage to protest are threatened with dire consequences by the police. They threaten to lock us up, use brute force and even foist cases on us. This is what has been dissuading community members from joining the struggle in large numbers,” said Mr. Gowda.

Half-constructed

Taking the reporters earlier in the week around the landfill site managed by Srinivasa Gayathri Resource Recovery Ltd., gram panchayat president Ms. Manjunath pointed out to the half-constructed waste-to-energy plant.

“The company procured some machines and started construction of the plant some six years ago. It has been in a limbo for around five years now. The expensive machine parts have not even been removed from the original packaging! The other parts have rusted having been exposed to vagaries of nature,” she said.

Untreated leachate

The composting unit was eerily quiet with no activity whatsoever. Panchayat member Gowda said other than dumping, no processing activity was being taken up. Even leachate was not being treated and instead was let into unscientifically constructed solar evaporation ponds. However, the company representative at the spot claimed that composting, segregation activities were being taken up. When the media pointed out to the missing workforce, he claimed that they had gone out for lunch. Narendra Babu, local leader, claimed that the BBMP was also dumping garbage illegally in the two landfills in survey number 155. “Actually, half the 55 acres there belongs to the Forest Department, while the other half is gomala land. There’s dumping without permission.”

He said neither the government nor the BBMP had kept their promises of supplying potable water through tankers, developing infrastructure, conducting health camps and take up spraying to reduce the stench. “We demand a written assurance that the dumping will be stopped in February. We are tired of living with garbage on our doorstep.”

Official speak

In-charge BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah said the BBMP was working towards improving facilities in the affected villages.

“We will apprise Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and ministers concerned about the situation at Mandur.”

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