A burning problem

Activists launch interactive map showing places in Bengaluru where garbage is being set on fire

July 16, 2016 08:34 am | Updated 09:07 am IST - Bengaluru:

Karnataka : Bengaluru : 03/05/2016 :Garbage burning at Road side at Ballary Road near CBI office in Bengaluru on Tuesday 05 May 2016. Photo : Sudhakara Jain.

Karnataka : Bengaluru : 03/05/2016 :Garbage burning at Road side at Ballary Road near CBI office in Bengaluru on Tuesday 05 May 2016. Photo : Sudhakara Jain.

The lack of strict penalties for burning garbage across the city has come under severe criticism from several residents who are at the receiving end of the menace.

In an attempt to put pressure on civic agencies to realise the seriousness and scale of the problem, civic activist group Jhatkaa has launched an online interactive map where residents can mark the locations where garbage us burnt and send pictures.

On Thursday, the group presented a hard copy of the map, pictures and a petition with 2,700 signatures to the Sarfaraz Khan, Commissioner, Solid Waste Management (SWM), BBMP. “He said that crowd sourcing is a good option for cracking down on the menace,” said Divya Narayanan, campaigner for Jhatkaa.org.

The map currently covers 43 out of the 198 wards and has 234 pictures, which have been submitted by users who can simply send the location and pictures through WhatsApp (7676 022 555) to update the map. “We received around 40 pictures from Indiranagar, which surprisingly has a lot of garbage-related issues,” said Ms. Narayanan. But it could also reflect the involvement of residents in the locality.

The map has been colour-coded based on the number of pictures sent. It reveals that eastern areas reported more instances of burning of garbage. “It is tough to change people’s views when they have been following these practises for many years. One person who was doing this near our newly-constructed house had to be warned thrice before he stopped,” said Trishna M., a resident of Jeevan Bhima Nagar.

BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said, “Burning of garbage is not acceptable. This was discussed in the last council meeting. Wherever it has come to our notice, we have pulled up officers and given stern warnings. It is a cognizable offence. The perpetrator can be charged Section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code.”

Burning of garbage in open spaces is illegal, according to Municipal Solid Waste rules, but the absence of a fine has emboldened contractors and other culprits.

Jhatkaa is suggesting implementation of fines as well as a crackdown on the menace.

“We want a notification to be issued and penalties to be imposed. Civic agencies must work on a system of checks and penalties, which will discourage burning of garbage,” said Divya Narayanan, campaigner for Jhatkaa.org.

According to Ms. Narayanan, the BBMP must come out with a timeframe for working on a notification, which will at least list out the fines for violations. Last year, the National Green Tribunal had instituted a fine of Rs. 5,000 on violators while imposing a ban on open burning of garbage. Many residents are hoping for a similar fine in Bengaluru as well.

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