BBMP yet to approve tender for clearing construction and debris waste

Delay sees Bengaluru miss October 2017 deadline set by the Pollution Control Board to implement waste processing plans

December 08, 2017 07:59 pm | Updated December 09, 2017 05:11 pm IST

 Construction debris dumped in the bed of Kaggalipura lake on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Construction debris dumped in the bed of Kaggalipura lake on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

In New Delhi, Bengaluru dons the role of a global leader in a coalition to battle air pollution. In the halls of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) lies a file that has taken a back seat to the squabbling among councillors, and has, perhaps, delayed the possibility of dealing with one of the biggest contributors to air and water pollution: construction and debris waste.

It has been three years since the BBMP first put out a tender to hand over nearly 10 acres at Kannur for the exclusive purpose of dumping and sorting the city’s construction debris. By the civic body’s estimates, between 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes of construction debris is being generated in the city daily, and much of this is being dumped illegally.

While the tender did not elicit any response, a second attempt was made in 2016, before achieving some success in March this year. By June, the tender had almost been finalised, apart from one final step — approval from the BBMP council.

However, the topic is yet to be discussed despite being listed four times.

Consequently, the city missed the October 2017 deadline set by the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on construction and debris waste management in March 2016. The board had given cities with more than one million population nearly 18 months to implement the processing of construction and debris waste.

“Some clarifications were needed, and the process has been completed. We will approve it in the coming council session some time in the end of December,” said Sampath Raj, Mayor.

Only one quarry to handle waste

Currently, there is just one quarry, which sees construction waste entering in low quantities, a marked step down from seven in 2014.

The city has a designated place to dump construction waste and debris, said Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner (Health and Solid Waste Management).

Hitherto, no civic agency had imposed specific conditions on contractors on where such debris is to be dumped.

Dumping in lakes remains a persistent problem

Debris continues to be dumped by the side of lakes, major roads or in empty plots. A pointer to the prevalence was seen in the report by Environmental Management & Policy Research Institute (EMPRI), which showed that of the 691 water bodies studied, one-third were choked with construction debris. “Dumping of construction waste leads to clogging of drains and increases silt in water bodies,” said the report.

An example of this can be seen in the once thriving wetland between Kalkere and Margonadanahalli lake, which is now covered in mounds of debris.

Another indication is the amount of waste entering the city’s sole processing plant, Rock Crystals in Chikkajala. “We have a capacity of 1,000 tonnes daily, but we get only 80 tonnes,” said Rajesh Korah, Managing Director, Rock Crystals.

No mention in BDA’s draft Revised Master Plan 2031

How does the city’s planning authority imagine the disposal of construction waste — at nearly 3,000 tonnes per day now — in 2031? The simple answer is that it doesn’t.

The draft Revised Master Plan 2031 released recently by the Bangalore Development Authority does not allocate new zones for construction waste disposal — as mandated by CPCB guidelines — and instead just recycles the list of existing seven quarries provided by BBMP.

Those in the sector said this could create problems as permissions from the pollution control board will be difficult. “Without a change in land use to reflect processing of construction waste, investors may be wary, as it could lead to hurdles in the future,” said an expert.

Attempts to tackle the problem

March 2014: First tender for development of 10-acre area for dumping, sorting of construction waste. Tender fails

March 2016: Central Pollution Control Board issues guidelines for managing construction waste, sets 18-month deadline for setting up processing centres

April-June 2017: Third call for processing site at Kannur on the outskirts of the city; tender almost finalised

June-December 2017: Council defers approval of tender multiple times

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