HSR Layout residents cannot escape the stench

Residents of Kudlu, Haralukunte, Hosapalya, Somsundarapalya and Parangipalya want KCDC plant to be shut down

January 30, 2018 09:08 pm | Updated January 31, 2018 05:25 pm IST

 A file photo of a protest against the KCDC waste processing unit at Somasundarapalya at Kudlu Gate in March 2017. RWAs allege that officials have not shown the will to resolve the issue.

A file photo of a protest against the KCDC waste processing unit at Somasundarapalya at Kudlu Gate in March 2017. RWAs allege that officials have not shown the will to resolve the issue.

Despite several protests and months of negotiations, it’s unlikely that residents will be able to escape the stench from the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation (KCDC) plant at HSR Layout Sector 6. The situation has reached a stalemate: while they have asked KCDC to use biofilters to control the odour, this solution does not sit well with people employed at the plant who find the working conditions unbearable when the stench is trapped inside.

Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs), who allege that officials have not shown the will to resolve the issue, are now demanding that the government shut down the plant.

After a protest in March 2017, they formed a Joint Action Team (JAT) involving officials from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), KCDC and other government bodies in August 2017. Nonetheless, this turned out to be a disappointing experience as officials were neither regular in attending the fortnightly meetings nor met the targets set in the meetings, residents alleged.

Kamesh Rastogi, representing HSR Layout RWA, believes that the authorities have failed them. “We found that there was no accountability or ownership on the part of the officials. They had promised that there would be no stench by January. Further, they have a huge backlog of about 40,000 litres of leachate, which is the main reason for the stench. Not just this, they have encroached on the lake nearby, using it for storing Residual Dry Fuel (RDF), which is highly combustible. There are chances of the RDF catching fire in summer,” he told The Hindu .

Shankar S. Sarma, another resident, added that holidays and festive seasons were the worst, as there is intake of garbage but it is not processed. “A burning sensation in the eyes and respiratory problems have become a part of our lives,” he said.

Every day, the plant receives about 200 tonnes of waste from three Assembly constituencies — BTM Layout, Bengaluru South and Bommanahalli.

‘Workers unable to bear stench inside’

Following demands from the residents, KCDC set up biofilters. However, this made it difficult for employees. KCDC Chairman Kenche Gowda told The Hindu , “We have about 60 employees. But no one wants to work here any more because the air is trapped inside and workers are suffering from migraines. They bathe three times every day. We need to consider the safety of our workers. A compost plant is not meant to be functioning in this manner, with all the stench trapped inside. It should have open space.”

The plant started functioning in 1975, but the construction of residential apartments in the area over the years has made life difficult for both, the operation of the plant and those living in its vicinity, said Mr. Gowda. He believes that eventually, the plant may have to be shifted. “We need a place where there is no human settlement for at least 50 km,” he said.

Human chain on February 11

Residents under the banner of Kudlu, Haralukunte, Hosapalya, Somsundarapalya and Parangipalya Residents’ Welfare Association (KHHSP RWA) will be forming a human chain on February 11 to highlight their demand to shut down the plant. The residents said they had been protesting for the past two years and want a solution to the crisis.

Sarfaraz Khan, joint commissioner, solid waste management, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, said they had tried their best to ensure that no one is inconvenienced by the plant. “We have been trying to solve the issue through dialogue in the Joint Action Team (JAT). We have put biofilters. The Palike has released funds for gas masks for the benefit of employees of the plant,” he said. It is not feasible to shut down the plant. The Palike is working towards setting up of decentralised plants, which are likely to be completed in a year. Once the plants are decentralised, the load on the existing plants would come down, he added.

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