Residents up in arms against waste processing plants, allege mismanagement

Most plants remain underutilised while Bengaluru’s dependence on landfills increases

September 17, 2020 09:15 pm | Updated September 18, 2020 08:25 am IST

A solution being sprayed on segregated waste at a waste processing plant to control odour.

A solution being sprayed on segregated waste at a waste processing plant to control odour.

Though the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has seven waste processing plants, it continues to be dependent on landfills for the disposal of most of the waste generated in the city. Operations are being scaled down, primarily due to opposition from local communities in the vicinity, say civic officials.

Plants at Subbanapalya, Seegehalli and Doddabidarakallu have not been functioning for at least five months now. The other plants are functioning at just 30% of their installed capacity.

While residents allege that none of the processing plants are being maintained properly, BBMP claims that this is far from the truth. Senior officials from the Solid Waste Management Cell told The Hindu that third-party audits were conducted and a revised set of SOPs was issued after an audit was taken up based on the recommendation of the Technical Guidance Committee (TGC) appointed by the High Court.

Officials, who commented on condition of anonymity, pointed out that in some cases, the local communities were prompted to protest by people with vested interests.

With repeated complaints from local communities about poor management at the plants, members of the TGC have for long been pressing for appointment of dedicated teams for each of the processing plants.

H.C. Sharathchandra, TGC member, told The Hindu that currently, the plant managers are also in-charge of some wards. This, he said, meant that the plants were not the first priority. He also proposed the constitution of a separate SWM Board to look into waste management.

The High Court, on multiple occasions, has directed the BBMP to revive all the seven waste processing plants and run them at optimum capacity. While pointing out that no one has the authority to shut down waste processing plants, the BBMP sources said they would be inviting contempt of court if the plants are not revived soon.

Some of the plants

1) MSGP, Chikkanagamangala

Every day, around 200 garbage trucks make the trip to the Chikkanagamangala plant, claimed Govindaraj, a resident of Doddabelavangala.

In March, residents had staged a protest, demanding that the BBMP not revive another plant in the vicinity.

“We met the Chief Minister who heard our grievances about water sources being contaminated by the leachate from the plant,” he said. “The area is the catchment for the Byragondalu dam, which is around 5 km away. The dam is part of the Yettinahole project.”

BBMP officials and TGC members claimed that this plant was better managed than the others.

2) Karnataka Compost Development Corporation, Kudlu

For years, the Kudlu, Hosapalya, Harlur, Somasundarapalya and Prangipalya (KHHSP) Residents’ Welfare Association has been demanding that the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation plant be shut down if it cannot be run as per the norms.

Kamesh Rastogi, RWA member, said over the past three weeks particularly, the stench from the plant has been overwhelming. He claimed that air monitors were not installed.

Civic officials said that when it rains, there was no way the odour could be controlled. With regard to bio-filters, officials said the workers at the plant complained that it was claustrophobic and difficult to work.

3) Chikkanagamangala

“Even a common man, with no knowledge in solid waste management can say with conviction that the waste processing plant is not functioning properly,” said Pranay Dubey from Electronics City Rising.

The citizens’ group has for the past couple of years been protesting, demanding closure of the plant citing odour and leachate contamination.

“Repeated complaints about the plant have fallen on deaf ears,” said Mr. Dubey.

4) Kannahalli-Seegehalli

The twin plants are in the middle of Kempegowda Layout developed by the Bangalore Development Authority. Though the Seegehalli plant has been closed for a few months, the Kannahalli plant has been functioning.

“We can’t have a meal in peace. While eating with one hand, we have to swat flies away with the other,” lamented Mohanraj from the Kannahalli-Seegehalli Horata Samiti. He alleged that leachate from the plant was not being treated and that wet waste was dumped in the open.

5) Doddabidarakallu

Residents living nearly 3-km from the plant are affected by the odour. The plant is located in a residential area, surrounded by many schools, said N. Satish, a resident of an apartment on Andhrahalli Main Road, near the plant. Residents had even lodged complaints about the plant in the Prime Minister’s Office.

“The plant is not adhering to the prescribed norms. Members of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board visited the plant a couple of years ago and found SOPs were not being followed,” he added.

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