Homes and gardens

A garbage dump turns into pretty walkway

How it looked like earlier

How it looked like earlier   | Photo Credit: Hemant Agrawal

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After a long struggle, an entire lane in Domlur filled with filth and debris gets a makeover. By Nandhini Sundar

When it comes to choosing a residence, multiple aspects and requirements come to the fore. While many of the expectations may or may not be fulfilled, one aspect that is generally irreconcilable is the environs of the prospective residence; this particularly includes an absence of garbage dumping in the vicinity.

But how about deliberately choosing a site that overlooks an entire street used as a garbage dump,not just by the civic-insensitive residents in the neighbourhood but also by the BBMP which periodically contributes to the putrefying refuse? Sounds unthinkable, undoubtedly irrational? Perhaps.

But that is exactly what Hemant Agrawal did in the year 2011, buying an old house in Domlur ward, situated directly opposite a stinking, overflowing garbage dump that served as the breeding ground for all ills, not to mention the countless rodents and pests that vied for space with the cows and stray dogs scouring through the mounting filth. It is to be noted that this garbage dump was not confined to a single site but extended across an entire street as it abetted the compound wall of the defence area, tucked safely away from traffic.

“The place was a black spot for the BBMP, where the area garbage was dumped, to be collected later. The stench was intense, with flies, mosquitoes and rats on the mounds of garbage piled. I would stay up past midnight and wake up as early as 4 a.m. just to stop the neighbourhood from dumping more garbage on that street”, says Dr. Agrawal. “Some even threatened me when I tried to stop the dumping and had some of it cleared”, he adds.

But what prompted him to secure a property opposite a garbage dump? “I took it as a challenge to clear the spot and make it habitable. If my residence was next to it, the perseverance would be more”, he smiles.

The battle to clear it was however not easy, extending over six years of sleepless nights. “While the intense stench made it impossible for us to step out of the residence without covering our nose, our windows and doors facing the garbage remained permanently shut to keep out the flies and mosquitoes.”

According to Agrawal, not only was household garbage dumped, even construction debris was dumped, becoming the single largest dumping ground for everything in the area while the BBMP “turned a deaf year to all complaints.”

However, in 2015 the tide turned when Agrawal managed to have the BBMP Commissioner, Subhodh Yadhav, make a visit. “Interestingly, the BBMP had a sizeable portion of the garbage cleared to make way for the Commissioner’s visit, but promptly went back to dumping after his visit”, he says.

Turning point

The real change started when The Ugly Indian came into the picture in 2016, manually removing the dry waste and debris and later stacking the wet waste against the defence area compound wall. “I sourced a large variety of seeds and threw them on this stacked pile so that over a period, the compost from the wet waste will serve as a fertile soil to nurture a rich growth of greenery.”

While the dense growth of greens happened, and the garbage dumping deterred, Agrawal was faced with another menace on the path cleared.

“Once the garbage was cleared, an erstwhile tarred road was revealed on the path. This was soon taken over as a parking space for private buses, with the drivers and cleaners using the road as a bathing and toilet area”, he says.

Undaunted, Agrawal continued to persist with help from The Ugly Indian, keeping the space litter free, periodically adding to the greenery. “We eventually managed to stop these buses from being parked there.”

Soon the situation altered for the better when the corporator of Domlur ward, Lakshminarayan Gundanna, offered to help with tarring the street.

“Since the street is tucked away from the main road and has no traffic, we decided to create a serene walkway for senior citizens with lush greens flanking either side. We had pavers on the street to permit rainwater to seep in while the fruit trees and flowers on either side bring colour and cheer. “

The street is blocked for traffic on both ends, ensuring the elderly can walk safely, says Agrawal, revealing a beautiful avenue that now marks an erstwhile garbage dump.

Other initiatives

Interestingly, this ‘Ajji Ajja’ road is not the only initiative that Agrawal has taken up over the last decade. “Along with The Ugly Indian and Corporator Gundanna, we have worked on other black spots in the area, like the space under the flyover, another garbage dumping site next to an upmarket apartment complex, and created a dog park, besides other initiatives. The ward has also been made a puppy-free zone, with all the street dogs neutered.”

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 5:34:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/a-garbage-dump-turns-into-pretty-walkway/article30213649.ece

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