Cracking the whip on errant apartment complexes, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike slapped fines on residential buildings in many parts of Bengaluru for not composting wet waste inside their premises.
Taking to Twitter, BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar said, “We started with Radhakrishna Temple Ward 18. A fine of Rs 1,70,000 has been levied on Sterling Apartments there, and Rs 3,75,000 on Raheja Pebble Bay for failing to follow in situ composting rules.”
The apartments are located near New BEL Road and RMV stage 2 respectively.
Chief Engineer, Solid Waste Management Department, said that over 10 other apartments across Bengaluru had been fined, and the tentative total amount was up Rs 32 lakh.
Further, Solid Waste Management Department officials said that this crackdown will continue over the next few days to ensure that apartments follow the rules.
According to norms, apartments in Bengaluru have to do in-situ composting if they produce 100 kg or more of garbage in a single day. These apartments are considered as bulk waste generators -- similar to hotels and other commercial establishments.
Other than this, smaller apartment complexes and individuals can compost their wet waste voluntarily.
Earlier in October 2018, then opposition MLA Ashwath Narayan CN (currently Deputy Chief Minister) had campaigned asking the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to waive the solid waste management cess for households that compost organic waste on their own.
The solid waste management cess is collected by the BBMP as part of property tax, and amounts to Rs 160-Rs 600 per household unit, depending on the size of the property. Ashwath argues that removing the cess will encourage sustainable measures like in-situ composting and recycling, thus bringing down the burden on BBMP.
However, activists and residents of apartment complexes say this fine itself is not legally sound.
Srikant Narasimhan, General Secretary of the Bangalore Apartment Federation (BAF), said, “SWM Rules 2016 do not make it mandatory for apartments to do in-situ composting. It just suggested to do as far as possible. Instead, it is mandated in the rules for the BBMP to pick up segregated waste from every household. So here, there are no errant apartments.”
In a statement, he added, “BAF strongly condemns this high-handed & illegal action of BBMP of imposing fines on apartments for not doing in-situ composting, without any understanding of either the practicality or the rules that are in force. This is a clear case of harassment of innocent citizens and levying illegal penalties on people who are already doing more than what they can or are needed to do as per the SWM Rules. BAF will fully fight this injustice and harassment by BBMP, both through legal means and through protests, if BBMP continues to be unreasonable.”
Ramprasad, a solid waste management expert and environmental activist, noted that the fines imposed were based on a notice signed by the BBMP Commissioner. He questioned how the authority imposed the fine before the BBMP council could discuss and pass this as a byelaw.
Reacting to this, a senior BBMP official said based on the appeals, the fines can be withdrawn. He said, “It is not in the BBMP’s interest to collect fines but to ensure that waste is managed locally as much as possible.”
Ramprasad added, "Can a notice by Commissioner become the rule and law. Is there no time period to such notices? If Commissioner has all the powers and jurisdiction to make laws or rules, then why do we have corporators or Mayors or even politicians? Let Commissioners make the laws and rules and run the city."