Five years after the Karnataka High Court bench comprising Justices N. Kumar and B.V. Nagarathna gave reformative directions to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for ensuring better solid waste management in the city, progress has been painfully slow, said a report released on Friday.
'Bangalore's Toxic Legacy Intensifies' by the Environment Support Group (ESG) says though some changes have come about in terms of people understanding the need for segregation at source, better remunerations for pourakarmikas, setting up of dry waste collection centres and composting units, a lot more needs to be done.
Split into five parts, it looks at the situation in legal and illegal landfills, with Mavallipura as a case study, the health impact on residents living in the vicinity, the status of waste processing units in Bengaluru and the working conditions of pourakarmikas.
Looking at the need to phase out landfills in the periphery of Bengaluru with Mavallipura as an example, the reports dwells into the health problems that continue to plague the citizens living around the landfill and shows how it continues to be a source of pollution despite its closure.
“Noxious gases that escape such landfills and toxic effluents are constantly contaminating soil, surface and ground water aquifers,” the report says, adding that there are high incidences of respiratory disorders and skin infection among children, menstrual disorder and kidney failure among women, and cancer, diabetes mellitus and cardiac problems among men in the villages around landfills.
On the other hand, the seven waste processing units in the city have not generated the expected results, according to the report. “Huge piles of mixed waste stocked up at these facilities, slow processing of organic waste, foul stench spreading over several kilometres and percolation of untreated leachate are some of the key adverse impact of these facilities,” it says.
Working conditions of pourakarmikas
Based on a survey conducted by ESG in November last year to study their working conditions, the report found that not much has changed for pourakarmikas either. Most have to walk for over 3 kms a day to reach their workplace and no transport allowance is provided, it said, adding that not all are provided with safety gear and lack basic facilities, such as changing rooms and bathrooms.
Pay-wise too, non-regularised workers are hardly able to take leave as they lose ₹500 a day for not reporting to work and payment for most is delayed by two months, it pointed out.