Protest at Bellahalli throws garbage collection out of gear

BBMP sought help of police to resume dumping of waste in the landfill

Updated - August 23, 2019 08:19 am IST

Published - August 22, 2019 11:00 pm IST

The city has been dumping waste in Bellahalli landfill for more than three years.

The city has been dumping waste in Bellahalli landfill for more than three years.

Protests by villagers in Bellahalli, where the city dumps most of its waste, saw garbage trucks blocked since Wednesday morning. With the recent spate of rains, the landfill has become an even more serious threat to the health and well-being of people in the area, said protesters, who don’t want their backyard to be the receptacle for Bengaluru’s garbage, a practice that has been going on for more than three years.

The civic body, unable to broker peace, used police force to restart dumping waste on Thursday afternoon.

“The focus was on clearing the blockade at Bellahalli landfill. There were over 300 garbage-laden trucks waiting at the landfill to be unloaded. They began unloading on Thursday. All 450 trucks have done a second trip to collect Thursday's waste,” said D. Randeep, Special Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, BBMP.

However, the time lag in collection of waste on Thursday has resulted in garbage being dumped on street corners in several parts of the city. Rains lashing parts of the city have only added to the mess, causing decomposition of garbage and a foul smell from garbage heaps, which pose a health risk as well.

Mr. Randeep said the backlog on the streets has to be manually cleared, a task which the civic body needs some time to complete. “We will clear the streets of garbage in a day,” he said.

Protests over grants

Shivakumar, one of the residents of Bellahalli, the civic body had promised a special development grant of over ₹100 crore following a protest in January earlier this year. However, the grant has been put on hold, triggering protests. “Tenders have been issued for works worth ₹18 crore, mainly drinking water projects, all of which have been put on hold now,” he said.

Outgoing BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said the works were stalled as the government had put the civic budget on hold. Protesters have demanded immediate resumption of the works, a demand the commissioner said will take time to be fulfilled.

“The civic body has been dumping over 3,000 tonnes of mixed waste every day in the village for years creating a garbage mountain of around 20 lakh tonnes. All roads leading to the village are damaged due to truck movement. We suffer from ill-health and water shortage,” Mr. Shivakumar said.

Krishna Byre Gowda, Congress MLA of Byatarayanapura, alleged that Local Area Development Funds are being diverted to constituencies being represented by the BJP. “The village has been suffering because of the city. In January, the BBMP promised to stop dumping waste in the quarry. Reports suggest that the civic body will likely start using the quarry pit next to the present quarry pit in which waste is being dumped. The civic body has gone back on both promises – to stop dumping waste and development grants,” he said.

BBMP to miss SWM deadline

The civic body had come out with a vision plan for Solid Waste Management in the first week of July, which said only segregated waste will be collected from September 1, a deadline that the BBMP will miss.

The ward-wise garbage collection and transportation tenders that have been finalised for the most part, are caught in a quagmire both legal and procedural. It will be a while before they will be cleared.

While contracts for only 22 ward have been cleared, those for nearly 50 wards have been challenged in courts. Contracts for the remaining wards will be placed for approval at the upcoming BBMP council meeting, sources said.

“The collection of only segregated waste from September 1 was subject to the garbage tenders taking off. We will go for mandatory segregation only after the new tenders come into effect,” said outgoing BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad.

The civic body will also miss the November 1 deadline to stop dumping mixed waste in landfills. At the council meeting earlier this month, Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun sought more time when Justice Subhash B. Adi, heading the NGT Committee on SWM, set November 1 as the deadline to stop dumping waste in landfills.

“The BBMP appears to be hunting for a new landfill as the one at Bellahalli is fast filling up,” sources said.

This has drawn sharp criticism from activists and experts alike.

“The civic body always cites emergent situations to use quarries as landfills. This shows that processing of waste is not diligent,” said V. Ramprasad, an SWM activist.

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