Bengaluru

Residents up in arms against burning of plastic on Vrishabhavathi riverbed

Burning of plastic and waste along the Vrishabhavathi river.

Burning of plastic and waste along the Vrishabhavathi river.   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

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They allege that the river is being encroached upon by dumping debris and concrete

Bengaluru's polluted water bodies have been in the news in recent years though the spotlight has mainly been on lakes, especially Bellandur and Varthur, after high levels of pollution caused the lakes to spew froth and fire. But the city's only river – the Vrishabhavathi – has been under constant threat from pollutants, raw sewage and other effluents.

People living near the river have now alleged that plastic is being burnt on the riverbed on a large scale, and debris is being dumped into the river, leading to water and air pollution.

Narahari Rao, who lives in a housing complex close to the river in Kambipura, said the burning of plastic has been taking place barely 10 feet away from the river. "It has been one year since it started. But it has increased in recent times. It has become a burning issue for us here as the smoke has been suffocating us and causing allergic reactions. And this is happening in the buffer zone," he said.

Sreenandan A.V., another resident, said not only has the quantum of plastic being burnt increased, the river is being encroached upon by dumping debris and concrete.

Residents allege that large quantities of plastic is brought in trucks to private land across the housing complex on the other side of the river at night. Though the burning allegedly takes place at night, the smell of smoke is evident near the complex.

According to another resident, Amrit Pandurangi, electrical components are also being burnt to separate the metal components. “Not only is this whole act dangerous and polluting, it is also illegal,” he pointed out.

Residents have reached out to the Kumbalgodu panchayat and police, both of whom have assured action.

Kumbalgodu panchayat president Chikkaraju told The Hindu that he had received a representation from the residents. "They gave a representation this week when I was out of town. I will definitely visit the spot on Monday and put an end to the activity," he said.

Earlier, researchers from Ashoka Trust for the Environment and Ecology (ATREE) had conducted a year-long study involving monthly 24-hour sampling, and found that illegal discharge was being done from industries at night. Researchers found big peaks in heavy metal levels between midnight and early morning.

Probing the nature, sources and impact of waste water-based irrigation in the Vrishabhavathi valley, they had collected water samples from three villages downstream of Byramangala tank, and found that contamination, particularly of heavy metals such as nickel, copper, chromium, lead and manganese, had seeped into the soil, groundwater as well as milk and vegetables.

They had revealed how this was a risk to the local population as well as people who would ultimately consume the food.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 4:18:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/residents-up-in-arms-against-burning-of-plastic-on-vrishabhavathi-river-bed/article30480795.ece

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